McKee: Lawmakers’ plan to fix TIA makes sense, but will it go anywhere?
by Don McKee
February 10, 2012 12:03 AM | 2647 views | 6 6 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
This makes sense: a revision of the Transportation Investment Act proposed by state Reps. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) and Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City).

The plan starts at the starting place — a proposed state constitutional amendment to be voted on in November authorizing counties, not the legislature, to form special transportation districts of two or more counties and to hold referendums on a sales tax of up to one percent in such districts.

There has been a question from the start about the legality of the TIA which suffers from “fatal flaws,” Setzler says. His colleagues under the Gold Dome generally took the same position before the legislation was passed. But apparently, the leadership did not want to be bothered with minor details.

If the constitutional amendment gets through the General Assembly — a big if — along with its enabling bill, HB 938, then the looming July 31 TIA referendum would be canceled and a new referendum set for July 2014.

The Setzler legislation would also allow counties to opt in to a proposed special transportation district after their county commissions have approved a project list; allow counties to levy a one-cent or fractional sales tax; and mandate that a county or counties sponsoring a fixed transit system, such as the controversial light rail for a tiny piece of Cobb, must agree to pay for the system’s operation after the 10-year tax runs out. No doubt, many Cobb citizens will agree that holding the sponsors of a system responsible for future costs is one of the best features of the proposal. As Setzler pointed out, the TIA setup “provides a substantial subsidy of the existing MARTA system,” even though it “was specifically prohibited in the TIA law.”

The best part of this proposal is that it allows counties to voluntarily join together as they see fit to follow their common interests, create transportation projects they need, and, with voter approval, raise taxes to pay for the projects. There would be no arbitrary districts or regions imposed by the General Assembly — the problem with the existing TIA — and it would be up to elected county officials to do their job in developing rational projects to alleviate traffic problems.

“Most importantly,” as Setzler told the Journal, “it gives counties the power of self-determination. That’s paramount.”

So what is the outlook for the Setzler proposal? First, it would be reassuring to see more sponsors, especially members of the Cobb delegation. Second, there’s no sign of interest by Gov. Nathan Deal or House Speaker David Ralston and only two of 20 legislators (most from Cobb) who received a letter in mid-January from the Georgia Tea Party urging that the TIA be amended or repealed. By early February, the GTP reported, “So far, we have heard from two representatives who currently oppose the law as it is written, but have heard nothing from the Governor of the House Speaker.”

It’s not a good sign. This proposal deserves better. Tell your legislator, the governor, the speaker.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
February 11, 2012
Reps. Setzler, Gollick, and Ramsey's plan is a good start, but they need to take out all references to regionalism out. That continues allowing non-elected and un-responsible entities to decide our future.

If 2 (or more) counties wish to enter into an agreement on a project, that is what it should be.

As for all of the jerks trying to push mass transit down our throats, they need to look at MagLev which is totally private, cheaper, requires no exercise of eminent domain, and gives money back to the counties/municipalities in right-of-way fees.

For the time being, I will keep my additional 1% to myself.
False anger
February 10, 2012
Tim Lee did a great job with what he was presented. Those opposing him could care less about the TIA. They are only interested in knocking him down before the coming election. Boot Tim Lee, you are a joke every time you post here as is Pat H. who is a cover for candidate Savage.
Boot Tim Lee
February 10, 2012
Tim Lee voted to raise taxes and voters are furious with him for trying to shove MARTA down our throat. 'nuff said.

February 10, 2012
@False Anger

This TIA fiasco is just the latest and most evident indication of Tim Lee's incompetence.

In addition to his now infamous TIA Roundtable bumbles, there are numerous other examples of his incredibly bad judgement and lack of backbone and integrity.

Property tax increases in an economic recession after saying he would not do that if the County transportation SPLOST passed.

Support of giving county funding to the Chamber for their dubious activities.

Support of stripping the county of their abiltiy to control tax incentives for businesses by passing that to unelected individuals.

Support of Superintendent Hinjosa

Failure to make necessary spending cuts in the county budget.

Etc. Etc.

I am not saying that the other candidates for the Chairman's seat are particularly well qualified but one thing is for sure

Tim Lee has proven, beyond a shodow of a doubt, that he is NOT at all qualified.

I wouldn't vote for him for dogcatcher!!

He is simply not up to the job.

That is the plain and simple truth.
Boot Tim Lee
February 10, 2012
I still want TIM LEE BOOTED OUT for supporting this boondoggle in the first place. ADIOS TIMMY!
Last GA Democrat
February 10, 2012
The TIA is crap and just simply needs to be scrapped altogether being delayed until the ninth of NEVER!

Just take the one percent of the state fuel tax that currently goes into the state's general fund and redirect it towards road improvements only while funding well-placed and well-thought out transit improvements and expansions (commuter rail and commuter bus) with bonds paid off with USER FEES in the form of ADEQUATELY-PRICED FARES paid for by transit users themselves instead of forcing taxpayers to pickup the tab on something that will likely be of little to no use to them (Midtown-to-Cumberland light rail and MARTA).

Another GREAT way to raise money for road improvements would be to toll out-of-state drivers only by placing tolls on interstates that pass through Georgia that out-of-state motorists have no way of avoiding if they want to get to popular vacation spots in Florida and the Gulf Coast.

Placing multiple tolls on I-20, I-75, I-85 and I-95 and exempting all in-state drivers would raise much-needed revenues for road improvements without raising taxes on Georgians or making Georgians pay tolls on existing roads already paid for with their tax dollars by making out-of-state drivers pickup the tab for road and transportation improvements.
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