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Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 9:41am

Some State Lawmakers Want To Put T-SPLOST Back On The Table

A bill in the state House calls for so-called regional transportation tax, or T-SPLOST, votes to be conducted on a smaller scale.

House Bill 195 will allow a few counties and cities to band together for referendums on fixing traffic troubles.

The 2012 defeat of transportation tax referendums came after voters in large regions were asked to agree on a long list of big, expensive projects. Out of 12 regional districts, only three regions passed the transportation referendum: the Central Savannah River, the Heart of Georgia Altamaha, the River Valley district.

Republican representative Ed Setzler from Acworth says the current bill allows the flexibility for districts to agree on the types of projects that need funding.

“There need to be ways where the core MARTA infrastructure can be supported, but allow the recognition that outer-lying suburbs that might have different interests and different desires in funding projects might be better served in funding regions that are more flexible and not imposed from the state capitol,” he said.

Setzler, who sponsored House Bill 195, is pushing for passage this year.

“If we do it this year, we could have the regions forming next year by local act, and have it on the ballot by 2016,” said Setzler. “It gives us the ability to shave two years off of when we could actually deliver projects, if we act this session.”

Democratic representative Calvin Smyre of Columbus is one of the supporters of a smaller version of TSPLOST.

“The more you can do it locally and get those municipalities and localities together, I think the better off you're going to be in trying to be successful, said Smyre.

He says transportation tax referendums need to go back on the ballot.

“We ought to put TSPLOST and transportation back on the political radar because I think it's one of those essentials.”

House leaders have indicated they are not enthusiastic about reviving the issue of transportation taxes this year, saying they want to see results from the handful of regions in the state where T-SPLOST votes were successful.


Shauna Stuart