Congressman sounds off on TIA
by Jon Gillooly
May 27, 2012 12:42 AM | 4432 views | 8 8 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
U.S. Rep. Dr. Tom Price (R-Roswell) shared his thoughts during a visit with the MDJ this past week about the July 31 transportation referendum that would raise the sales tax by 1 percent for 10 years. Following are his comments.

Q: Will you vote in favor of the transportation referendum?

A: I honestly don’t know. When I was at the state level, I fought to make it so that we could try to get some regional decisions made in transportation that were truly addressing the areas of congestion. One of the things that we did was to make certain that the tolls on 400 were used for 400 instead of sent around the state. It’s clear that we need some transportation solutions and expansion of capacity in the metropolitan area. I’m not certain that this bill was the right way to go at it. I didn’t have a hand in it at all obviously because it was at the state level.

Q: How will you make up your mind?

A: I think you got to weigh whether or not the project list and the increase in capacity or lack thereof justifies the increased tax and whether or not the regional nature of it is sufficient.

Q: The largest expenditure on Cobb’s project list is $689 million earmarked for “enhanced premium transit service” from Acworth to the MARTA Arts Center Station in Midtown, which Tim Lee said will be used for bus rapid transit and may be upgraded to light rail with federal funding. Do you believe that is a wise expenditure?

A: I’m not aware of any study that demonstrates that the capacity study that that would relieve justifies that expenditure, but I believe that local decisions ought to be the ones that determine where the resources go, so if that’s what is determined to be the priority for Cobb County residents, and it’s determined locally and has the buy-in of folks here and people go into it with eyes wide open, then it’s hard for me to criticize that, but I can’t imagine that there aren’t other projects that would provide greater capacity for the region.

Q: If the TIA passes, do you believe the $689 million “enhanced premium transit” earmark will turn out to be spent on light rail?

A: I’m not close enough to that decision to know that, but I do know that the federal funding, as I said last time we were together, is I don’t believe forthcoming in any predictable level. What we are fighting for at the federal level is to increase Georgia’s return on its gas tax money, that we continue to be a donor state, and as you know, I’ve fought from the day I got in Washington to decrease our donor status so that we get more Georgia hard earned tax payer money back to Georgia to be able to utilize in appropriate ways.

Q: If President Obama is re-elected and Republicans lose Congress, do you think a Democratic Washington is more likely to fund rail for this project than your side?

A: Well, neither of those things are going to happen, but I think it’s clear that folks on the Left tend to be believe in greater efficacy in mass transit than would be supported by the evidence of relieving congestion and increasing capacity.

Q: The Left does seem to love MARTA.

A: I know.

Q: Why is that?

A: I don’t know. There are these knee-jerk reactions that folks have to solutions that aren’t based upon evidence or data. One of my concerns about where we are right now is that we haven’t looked at the projects I believe that actually increase capacity or decrease congestion. That for some reason these things got on the list, many of them that were somebody’s either pet project or some political calculus. Now that being said, we’re 49th in the nation in terms of what we spend on transportation. We can’t remain the leader of the Southeast if we continue that. So we’ve got to move forward from a transportation standpoint. Atlanta became the wonderful metropolitan area that it is for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is being a transportation hub.

Q: Based on what you’ve heard in your district, will the referendum pass?

A: It’s a tough read. Most of my constituents sit in traffic every day regardless of where they are in the Sixth District of Georgia, but most of them sit in traffic every day. Most of them are terribly frustrated by that, so there is a sense that something needs to get done. For those that have looked at the project list there are some reasonable things on it for Sixth District constituents, and there are other things that they say, ‘well, why would we spend any money on that?’ The Fulton and DeKalb folks want to know why they’re spending another penny when they already spend a penny on MARTA and nobody else covers that in the metropolitan area, so there are pros and cons clearly.
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May 29, 2012
Tom Moreland
May 27, 2012
Dr. Tom answered every question from that place where I see dead 'possums and armadillos.

Please get out o' the road and give us some straight answers.
Don McAdam
May 27, 2012
"I’m not aware of any study that demonstrates that the capacity study that that would relieve justifies that expenditure"- Tom Price

What does that mean!!!? This part of Price's answer makes no sense. This is classic politician speak. In this response he is not expressing his opinion, he is merely trying to say that he is not aware of a study that would support the expenditure of $689 million for bus rapid transit or light rail. A study or studies almost certainly exist, he's just saying that he's not aware of them. In other words he hasn't bothered to educate himself on this matter.

As he stated, he's not really expressing his opinion, except to say that he's opposed to the plan, except that if the residents of Cobb County are in favor of the plan, well then that's their mistake to make.

This is a very funny interview.
May 27, 2012
I have always found Tom Price to be a thoughtful and candid person.

His take on the TSPLOST makes sense.

I think he pegged the project list for what it is. A non solution that, in his words, describes the project list as "many of them that were either somebody’s pet project or some political calculus."

This is what many of us, who have objectively reviewed the TIA project list, have been saying since it was made public.

It is also worth noting that he is still saying that federal funding necessary for the viability of some of the more costly transit proposals is not forthcoming.

mk - easy street usa
May 27, 2012
Sound of SILENCE! What a waste of newsprint. He had no thoughts, ideas or solutions! We pay these folks for WHAT?

I've got more ideas that there elected yahoos,.. and I'm a no-one!!
Voting No on TIA
May 27, 2012
"...we’re 49th in the nation in terms of what we spend on transportation. We can’t remain the leader of the Southeast if we continue that."

Why would spending less be a point of shame? This should be considered a triumph unless we are also 50th in the nation in mobility!

"The Fulton and DeKalb folks want to know why they’re spending another penny when they already spend a penny on MARTA and nobody else covers that..."

That penny buys them extra tax income in the form of sales taxes in Atlanta. They're confused that operating and maintenance costs aren't covered (via a tax subsidy) by everyone else. Here's an idea: MAKE THE FARE HIGH ENOUGH TO COVER IT, THEN OFFER DISCOUNTS TO FULTON & DEKALB RESIDENTS! If it's still too high for low income folks, offer a program to QUALIFY for an additional discount. I'd bet taxpayers would save lots of bucks in the process by not giving the deepest discount to all riders!

It ain't rocket science, people! MARTA's been mis-managed from the start. Many of us Cobb voters don't want to be pulled into the corrupt control of MARTA. It's not a race thing, it's a corruption/ineptness thing... wasteful bureaucracy.

Pat H
May 27, 2012
Dr. Price, please answer the question. Is 689 million for a "study" a wise decision? If Tim Lee ran as a Democrat, which is how he has acted, you most certainly would have an opinion.
May 27, 2012
I used to feel that Tom Price was a cut above the typical republican...certainly above those others from GA that we have representing us at the FED level.

His (wordy)"answers" to the questions posed by the MDJ make clear that he is no leader and has little back bone (he ain't no Reagan or Allen West)...but an adept say-nothing-answer giver who lacks the backbone to take a stand one way or the other, presumably at least not until he knows how the people he represents are going to vote.

Price was part of the Republican cadre that held full control of the US Congress during the Bush years-- the one that DID NOTHING to nail down the problems we still face today (ex: no energy policy, enormous expansion of government agencies, entitlement growth, erosion of personal liberties, the expansive EPA etc.).

Like others, since 2008 I have been watching and listening a lot more closely to what the supposedly fiscally conservative and supposedly freedom loving Republicans have been the local, state and FED level and I am disgusted. They have betrayed those of us who put them into office. They are directly responsible for the man we currently have driving our country into the ground. Tom Price was there and a part of it all. I believe Tom Price is part of the problem.

If Price wants to continue sitting in Congress much long, he probably needs to start sounding a lot more like Allen West and a lot less like John Boehner.
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