Now the Georgia Taxpayers Alliance says it will “lead a grassroots campaign” to defeat the TSPLOST, estimated to cost metro taxpayers “more than $7 billion over 10 years.” James Bell, director of the alliance, announced the campaign Wednesday.
“We’re working with a coalition being formed,” Bell said in a telephone interview yesterday. The coalition is expected to include the tea party and other groups opposing the regional sales tax that would raise an estimated $6.14 billion over 10 years.
Bell, a Lithia Springs videographer, said he and his alliance co-founder, Ron Williams, a Gwinnett County barber, do not “do membership” but instead work in building coalitions. He said he is in the process of “identifying 10 activists in 10 counties” to work against the TSPLOST by going to town hall meetings to speak up and help in other ways to energize a grassroots movement. The plan is for the anti-TSPLOST activists to use social networks, write letters to editors and stage public demonstrations, among other activities.
“Our first rally is probably going to be in Gwinnett County,” Bell said. “We will go county by county in the metro area.” But he acknowledged, “It’s like David and Goliath.”
Bell believes there is growing opposition to the TSPLOST, voicing surprise that some business people to whom he has spoken did not know what is in the proposal. Moreover, there is opposition from both ends of the political spectrum, he said, with Tea Party activists against the proposal as going too far, while some people on the left say it doesn’t go far enough.
In the GTA’s news release, Ron Williams said Gwinnett will be a major player in defeating the tax. He cited the HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes that confiscated existing HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes and squeezed more traffic into fewer “free” lanes. Such projects, he said, “have made Gwinnett voters skeptical of any proposal to reduce traffic congestion.”
A new anti-TSPLOST movement has been launched in coastal Glynn County. One of the organizers, Jeff Kilgore, said the proposal represents “the largest tax increase in the history of the state,” the Florida Times-Union reported. “The government is addicted to SPLOSTs,” he said.
Kilgore and Dale Provenzano formed the STOP Ballot Committee to urge voters to turn out and vote down the tax proposal. Kilgore said his organization is focusing on the 10-county coastal region, “but we’re also working with many other groups throughout Georgia including the Georgia Tea Party and the Atlanta Tea Party.”
The question is: Can these efforts stir a statewide grassroots movement opposing the TSPLOST? If so, the tax can be defeated — forcing the legislature to come up with a better plan for improving transportation.