Atlanta Mayor Predicts Win for Georgia Transportation Tax

Tom Warne Report, 20 July 2012

The Hill (blog) – July 18, 2012

Georgia – Atlanta’s mayor is confident that a controversial transportation tax proposal in Georgia will be approved by voters when they head to the polls next week. Polls have shown waning support in the final weeks of campaigning for the proposal to increase the sales tax by 1 cent in 12 Georgia regions to fund road and transit projects in the strongly conservative state.

Mayor Kasim Reed said in a recent speech to the Atlanta Business League that he expects a victory for the sales tax in the region that includes Atlanta. “Take it from somebody who knows how to win when I’m behind… We’re gonna win this election,” Reed said, referring to his 2009 campaign. He continued that public polls only showed the transportation tax was behind by 41-38 percent. “It’s an 800 sample poll, which is in the 3 percent margin of error, DOT supporters say the transportation tax, also favored by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, will generate $18 billion for state road and transit project if all 12 regions voting on the tax approve.

Reed said in his speech that the tax will draw the attention of other places to Atlanta. “It’s important we pass this in Atlanta because people all over the world are watching to see what we’re doing in Atlanta,” he said. “Look in the New York Times, look in the Chicago [Sun]-Times, look in the Los Angeles Times, look in the Economist, look in Barron’s. They are looking to see whether Atlanta is going to step up and solve a problem in a bipartisan way that nobody else in the Southeast has been able to take on.”

It is a challenging time for voter referendums. The Wall Street Journal editorial about the voter initiatives of 2011 called Colorado the “killing field” of ballot measures given the strong sentiment against raising taxes that manifested there. If you’ll recall, our November 11, 2011 issue of The Tom Warne Report reported that of the 30 ballot initiatives we followed during that election cycle, 21 passed. That rate of 66% is fairly constant from year to year. On the other hand, of note right now is the sentiment against raising taxes of any kind which works against the Georgia ballot measure. Another challenge is the fact that this isn’t a tax on the wealthiest of Georgians but on people of all income levels. We’ll report next week on how this turned out. TW

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