AJC: Why 3 Georgia regions voted for T-SPLOST

Three Georgia regions voted in favor of the additional one percent sales tax for transportation infrastructure on Tuesday — the Central Savannah River Area District around Augusta, the River Valley District including Columbus, and the Heart of Georgia Altamaha District in south central Georgia.

I was not surprised that the measure passed in the first two of those, but I was surprised that the conservative voters of the Heart of Georgia district opted for it.

From the AJC’s Why 3 Georgia regions voted for T-SPLOST:

The main thread connecting the T-SPLOST winners: All roads are local. Supporters hammered home how this dirt road would be paved or that potholed street would be resurfaced. Large dollops of the new money from the 10-year, 1 percent sales tax will be spent on road projects selected by city and county officials — a bigger local say-so than proposed for metro Atlanta.

Opposition to the sales tax, too, was relatively muted across the Augusta, Columbus and east-central Georgia regions, according to local officials. Tea party, anti-government fervor was low-key, as was the anger of the NAACP that prevailed across metro Atlanta.

In rural South Georgia, you’re more likely to know, and trust, your local official. And, unlike the urban-suburban tussle that bedevils metro Atlanta, rural Georgians appreciate the economic and social benefits that neighboring towns afford.

From Governor Deal’s press release on Wednesday:

The referendum passed in three regions, and I think those regions will see great returns on their investment. Under the law, these regions will also receive a 90 percent match for local transportation projects, meaning they will only have to put up 10 percent from local funds. The law requires a 70-30 split in the regions that didn’t pass it.

I’m not sure there will be “great returns” but there will be good returns at minimum, if the project lists are as strong as various media have indicated.