Will that Dodged Bullet Ricochet?
Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, August 3, 2012
By Sue Ella Deadwyler
Good morning, Jim. For those of us living in the 112 counties voting NO last Tuesday, the new transportation tax is Gone with the Wind, as Margaret Mitchell might say! The vote was two-to-one against it and declared dead in three-fourths of the regions, because most of us would rather drive ourselves than hitch a ride on rapid-rail to take us someplace we don’t want to go!
The 112 counties that voted NO won’t have to pay the tax, but the other 47 counties will fork over another one-per-cent sales and use tax for at least ten years, probably longer. Since T-SPLOST passed in three Georgia Regions – 7, 8 and 9 – folks living in Augusta and the 14-county region next to South Carolina will pay more taxes. So will the folks in the 16-county region next to the Alabama line where Columbus is located; and those in the 17-county middle Georgia region that includes the famous onion town of Vidalia.
But, listen up. If H.B. 277 of 2010 is enforced, the 112 counties that REJECTED the tax will be punished for 24 months. During those 24 months, they’ll have to pay 30-percent matching funds for Department of Transportation maintenance and improvement grants for their district. The three districts that ADOPTED the tax will pay only 10 percent matching funds for DOT projects. No matter how you look at it, we’ll ALL PAY MORE!
In the last few weeks, I took special note when a public official said, “If we can get it passed here, we’ll be a model for the rest of the country,” leading me to believe Georgia was the guinea pig for an extraordinary experiment. Then I wondered whether the quiet maneuver of the state into regional government, then, using it to get T-SPLOST adopted by regional votes WAS the experiment.
Regional government in Georgia quietly passed in H.B. 1216 of 2008, and went into effect July 1, 2009. Although regionalism is unconstitutional, it’s still on the books in Georgia. It is NOT in the Constitution of the State of Georgia or the United States Constitution. Both documents created government of the people, by the people and for the people. Regional officials are appointed and do NOT answer to voters. The transportation tax was developed under and voted on by unconstitutional regions, so every voter should have said NO to the tax and a LOUDER NO to regional government. So, beware! The tax some of us have dodged temporarily was only the surface problem. Regional government is the issue and it’s robbing us of our constitutional form of government. For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.