T-SPLOST equals greedy government

Published 7:35 am Monday, July 2, 2012

Greed, similar to that of the banking industry and Wall Street, is running rampant within all levels of  Georgia’s state and local governments. Our elected officials have delegated their power to impose taxes to an unelected, quasi-governmental, statewide body of 12 Regional Commissions (GRC) who are advocating the current T-SPLOST proposal. Unaccountability to voters is not “Government by the people and for the people.”

Our state legislators betrayed our trust by passing a new 1 percent sales tax scheme, the “Transportation Investment Act (TIA) of 2010” during a severe recessionary time. Favoring re-election, they shirked their duties of controlling and cutting discretionary expenditures by conceiving a political experiment to increase our taxes through the TIA (T-SPLOST), utilizing the GRC — the newest layer of government.

If passed, this new 1 percent sales tax is expected to generate an anticipated $1.5 billion annually. This would be in addition to the almost $1 billion annually of motor fuel tax revenues, according to the State’s 2013 budget. If GDOT and other state transportation departments are inefficient — fix them! Providing them with more power and our tax dollars through T-SPLOST is not an acceptable solution. In the past, bond issues would cover funding of large vital projects for state government. Has the inability of our elected officials to control spending reduced their municipal bond ratings to junk status? They expect taxpayers to come to their rescue!

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It is time to advise all Georgia politicians we do not need and will not finance the regional commissions. Besides its new tax, the GRC’s are another T-SPLOST negative. Conservative estimates for all 12 regions reveal their 600 employees, with salaries and a 63.6 percent benefit package, cost taxpayers more than $25 million annually. Their total annual operating budgets are more than $335 million. Our taxes through city and county dues and diluted state taxes fund their budgets. Also GRC has uncontrollable tentacles beyond T-SPLOST that can be used to invade other areas of our individual freedoms by increasing government’s spending and debt in the name of “investing in our future.”

If Georgians declare their independence by voting “no” on this new T-SPLOST tax, our message will be loud and clear that we are not sold on this tax scheme and we want the TIA Law repealed. Our local municipalities should be directly responsible to home areas and their citizens. GRC’s pledge to return 25 percent of the new tax revenues back to local governments for “buying in” is a thinly-veiled attempt to solicit support. Additionally, the law’s provision to increase, by 20 percent, the cost of matching local funds for DOT dollars to any regions who vote no on the new tax is extortion!

Do you realize an additional 1 percent local tax hike would equal 4 percent, including groceries? Therefore, totally, it would match or exceed the state’s sales tax revenues. In the future, city and county seats could independently and logically consolidate their duplication of services, management and departments to provide a solution to ease local budgets and stretch our tax dollars.

I would bet my last $1.07 that the greedy special interest groups will turn out to vote for T-SPLOST. Past voter complacency and apathy is responsible for other SPLOSTS equaling 3 percent of our local sales taxes now. With early voting July 9-27 and absentee ballots available, there is no excuse not to vote.

Remember: “A Government big enough to give you everything you want, can take away everything you have” Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826).

Kelly Godwin

Bainbridge, Ga.