BY: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
For decades, Atlanta has been the economic engine of the South, a dynamic city on the move. But if you’ve ever gotten behind the wheel here, it doesn’t feel that way.
The Atlanta metropolitan area has some of the worst traffic in America, with drivers routinely stuck in monumental, bumper-to-bumper jams that can turn a 10-minute trip into a miserable, one-hour slog.
Hoping to ease the gridlock, the region’s political and business leaders are pushing for a 1-cent increase in the sales tax to pay for billions of dollars in highway improvements and other transportation projects. The proposed tax is on Tuesday’s ballot.
Metro Atlanta is one of a dozen regions across Georgia that will vote independently on the tax increase, which could generate a total of more than $18 billion statewide for transportation projects over the next decade.
Opposition in metro Atlanta has crossed political and racial lines, creating unlikely allies and adversaries.
Pro-business Republicans, including Gov. Nathan Deal, are finding themselves at odds with tea-party leaders in the GOP, who argue government can’t be trusted to manage the tax revenue responsibly.
The fiscal conservatives have made common cause with black Democrats, who say the plan doesn’t do enough to help poor people and minorities because it devotes little to mass transit and overlooks some sections of the city, and with environmental groups, which fear more pollution and development.
Atlanta stands to gain the biggest share. Supporters estimate the 1-cent increase would generate more than $8.4 billion between 2013 and 2022. The sales tax in the region is now around 5 or 6 cents on the dollar in most cases.
- Jim Tharpe, PolitiFact Georgia editor for the Atlanta Journal Constitution