In Cobb, the proposition is headed “Atlanta Regional District T-SPLOST” and before the question is presented, there is Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s preamble: “Provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight.” Then the ballot question:
“Shall Cobb County’s transportation system and the transportation network in this region and the state be improved by providing for a 1 percent special district transportation sales and use tax for the purpose of transportation projects and programs for a period of ten years?”
As the anti-TSPLOST group, the Transportation Leadership Coalition, has pointed out — and threatened to sue Kemp over — the “promotional preamble” is nowhere mentioned in the legislation, the Transportation Investment Act (HB 277). The law clearly mandates the specific language on the ballot for each TIA district. That is the language on the Cobb ballot as quoted above.
In contrast, look at the ballot wording on Sunday alcohol sales in Cobb. There is no preamble. The proposition is headed “Cobb County Sunday Alcohol Sales” and simply asks the bare bones question: “Shall the governing authority of Cobb County, Georgia be authorized to permit and regulate package sales by retailers of malt beverages, wine, and distilled spirits on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 P.M. and 11:30 P.M.?”
Kemp claims his preamble is required by the law, telling Around Town, “it’s in the legislation.” It is not in the Transportation Investment Act, as TLC attorney Pitts Carr has pointed out. Check it for yourself online at www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/search/hb277. But it will be on the ballot since Carr says he’s not going to file suit over it.
However, it should be noted, without divining any motive of Kemp’s, that he is part of the Republican power structure including the governor and legislative leaders who pushed the TIA through the legislature — notwithstanding Kemp’s protestations and subsequent backtracking and reversals by many legislators.
The fate of the TSPLOST will depend on how informed or uninformed the voters are, as usual. But this time they will get a double sales pitch on the ballot with the Kemp preamble and the question itself. Voters who have not done their homework may well buy into the touted local transportation projects, creating jobs — a real hot button — and reducing traffic congestion, all under the oversight of citizens. Then the question tells them the tax is for improving transportation in Cobb, the region and the state “for a period of ten years.” No mention is made of non-transportation projects such as parks, airports, etc.
Voters have more than enough issues to sort out in Tuesday’s referendum without being subjected to a voting booth sales pitch on the ballot.