That’s not our opinion … it is yours in a very unofficial online poll the paper ran showing that the compara-tively few contested party primary contests hold little interest compared to the TSPLOST. It’s tempting to think this reflects a realization on the part of most of the electorate that their chosen representatives haven’t shown themselves capable of accomplishing very much … thus, why bother? With the TSPLOST, at least, voters actually have a voice in the outcome instead of leaving it to a proxy.
As for the TSPLOST, which this newspaper supports along with most business types, public officials and similar, according to another poll, more professionally done, it is likely to be slaughtered in the 15-county Northwest Georgia region.
One shouldn’t entirely believe this, although the deck does look stacked as many voters (called Democrats) would appear to have no reason to turn out other than for this one reason. Also, this is notorious “aginner” country when the word “tax” is in play. Indeed, all three individual regions containing the North Georgia mountains were found to be fiercely opposed.
It’s hard to tell if that is just anti-tax sentiment or because the one new road North Georgians really, really desire is not on the list of proposals. That would be an interstate-quality route running from northwest to southeast across the top tier of the state and getting absolutely nowhere near the Atlanta metro. Sure would be nice to have a way to a UGA football game without having to traverse Spaghetti Junction, wouldn’t it?
ADDITIONALLY, polls show less than their paid creators would like us to believe. For example, take current presidential polling, which shows President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney in a very tight popular vote contest. However, what many Americans forget is that only the Electoral College votes count. Take the very same polling results, divvy them up by state electoral votes, and a nose-counting website for this sort of thing shows Obama winning today by about 150 electoral votes.
How’s that possible — neck-and-neck among the people, runaway in the Electoral College? Easy. Romney is way ahead in many of “his” states by 10, 20, even 30 percentage points (including Georgia). Obama’s lead in “his” states aren’t near that lopsided even though, by polling criteria, having a 5-percentage-point lead is considered a “lock.”
Maybe a Floyd County “yes” landslide on the TSPLOST will help overcome many of the other 14 counties in this region shouting “No!” At worst, if Floyd Countians show themselves more progressive and savvy about what’s at stake than their neighbors, such an outcome would at least give the chamber of commerce something to brag about when wooing prospects.
By the way, those new roads — guaranteed to be built if this passes — are considered huge for economic development because of easing everybody’s access to and from “the outside world.” Estimates are this region would pick up 20,000 new jobs if the TSPLOST projects are approved.
EVEN MORE important for those who already live in Greater Rome, approval would end the coffin-generation occurring along Ga. 101 to Rockmart, the high truck-caused congestion on Ga. 140 across toward I-75 and — worth a yes vote alone — would be a nice jab at the Rollins family now fighting to halt as “too expensive” the U.S. 411 Connector across their “ranch’’ on which they do not even live. If the voters guarantee the money to build it, how can it be “too expensive”? Maybe voters want to put a one-carat diamond engagement ring on the girl’s finger instead of a cubic zirconium because they really, really love her.
Not only that but the same TSPLOST sentiment analysis shows it absolutely winning in one region (the coastal one centered on Savannah) and running even or barely winning in another four — including the all-important Atlanta region.
Few voters may realize why so much attention has been focused on the Atlanta outcome. If traffic-choked Atlanta, the so-called “economic engine” of the state, votes this down the political leaders will start rushing to find highway funds in some other way — tripling the motor-fuels tax (now 7.5 cents per gallon), financing everything with toll roads or similar. And, while all hereabouts would wind up paying, most of the proceeds will be concentrated on Atlanta. At least with the penny approach, everything local citizens put into the kitty is only used in this general area and zero in Atlanta.
ON THE OPPOSITE end of the scale, if the Atlanta metro approves the tax and most other regions, including this one, vote it down there is going to be very little interest in beefing up statewide highway revenues beyond their current insufficient levels. Clearly, the politicians will say, if Greater Romans and similar voted against new and better highways then they really don’t want them. Hence, as much as possible of any and all road monies should go to those who care … not only Atlanta but also Savannah, Augusta, Macon, Albany and Valdosta where a pro-TSPLOST sentiment shows up in the polls.
As repeatedly stressed in this space earlier, the TSPLOST represents the best, and perhaps last, chance that Greater Rome and its neighbors will get anything major in the way of newer/better primary highways for decades.
New taxes are no less enthusiastically received in this quarter than any other, but at least this proposal amounts to a contract saying the coveted local paving will be created. Not fast enough, perhaps, but at least a sure thing by a set date instead of in the sweet by-and-by. Moreover, if Greater Romans don’t like the way this all turns out in 10 years then they can vote against the next sales tax for roads. Particularly if Atlanta passes it, this is likely to become the state’s preferred method for funding new road/bridge/transit construction from now on.
After decades of sending local tax money designated for highways to Atlanta and receiving in return as little of it back as possible — and only when politicians who need a map to find Rome feel like it — this actually sounds like a very, very good deal. And perhaps the last decent one area residents will ever see.
SO, VOTE “yes” for the TSPLOST on Tuesday. It’ll be a lot easier and more pleasant to do than getting to I-75 from here.