Monday, November 24, 2008

All for one, not one undermining all

There's reason to be optimistic that the much-needed regional transportation sales tax will be approved in the 2009 Georgia General Assembly session, as indicated by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle during a luncheon today.

The main sticking points continue to be how to handle counties which either decline to participate in the SPLOST or counties which sign up but have a majority vote against participation. During the campaign for State Senate District 46, this was a primary area of policy difference between Bill Cowsert and Sherry Jackson.

Cowsert said he was for the SPLOST if there was a mechanism in place that protected those counties which voted against the funding. Jackson countered by arguing that such a technicality had the very real potential to derail the project as a whole.

Being a member of her campaign staff, naturally I'm inclined to be sympathetic to her position. Cowsert's argument can directly undermine the entire process as it would directly impact the available revenue and hinder multi-county cooperation.

Of course, the logic for permitting these opt-outs doesn't make much sense in a pratical, political sense and isn't practiced in other areas. For instance, just because Cowsert lost two-to-one in Athens-Clarke County doesn't mean he's not the representative for this county. Georgia doesn't get to opt-out of Barack Obama merely because a majority voted to award the state's electoral votes to John McCain.

Why? Because that's not how elections work, and that's what T-SPLOST ulimately is. It's letting communities have the right to partner together and decide for themselves if they want to enter into these mutally beneficial relationships, and that means trusting they'll know whether or not they have the across-the-board support for the proposed initiatives.

Presumably, the counties that decided to pursue the T-SPLOST would go through a thorough process prior to the actual vote to determine spending priorities, funding allocation, public awareness, etc. and etc. The argument put forward by Cowsert and the other opponents of T-SPLOST assumes that such logical prep work simply wouldn't be done, which is crazy.


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