Leaders working to educate, promote voters about TSPLOST

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email

Residents will get to decide whether or not to approve the TSPLOST in July. (WRDW-TV / May 30, 2012)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, June 12, 2012

EVANS, Ga. -- South Carolina's primary may be Tuesday, but Georgia voters head to the polls next month. One big topic on the ballot is the TSPLOST.

It's a one-cent sales tax that would go toward road projects in the 13-county region.

Supporters of the TSPLOST say knowledge is key, and on Tuesday, they spent the morning trying to educate local leaders and voters like you.

"We need more jobs, we need better jobs, our community needs change," said a new commercial set to air soon.

Connect Georgia is getting ready to roll out the new commercials, aimed at getting you interested in transportation.

"We need to be informed," says Wayne Yost of Wrens.

Yost drove from Wrens to Evans to learn more about the upcoming TSPLOST vote.

"I have a lot of people in my community are asking me about it and I want to be able to explain it to them," he said.

Twelve regions in Georgia will each separately vote for the referendum. The groups either pass the list of road projects as a region or put the brakes on them.

"It's going to be a local influx into our economy," Yost said.

"Really, a 'yes' vote means improved economy for this region and for Georgia," said Doug Callaway, executive director of the Georgia Transportation Alliance.

It's a fork in the road for many voters and a tough sell for some.

"We're asking folks in Georgia to vote themselves a penny sales tax increase during the worst economic recession since the great depression," Callaway told the crowd at West Lake Country Club.

"I don't want more taxes, but everything we get we've got to pay for and if you get a good product for your money, you're willing to pay for it," Yost said.

One of the biggest possible projects is the extension of Riverwatch Parkway into Evans. Another is the widening of Highway 56, one of the area's deadliest roads.

"Like everyone, I don't want to pay an extra penny, but when I see what the benefits are in return for that: more jobs, safer roads and local control, that's a good news story. I'm voting 'yes,'" Callaway said.

"Some great things have developed in hard times, and I believe this is one of them," Yost said.

And Yost says the next step for voters is to do their research.

"They need to know the truth. They need to know what it is and then they need to make a good choice based on that truth," Yost said.

Experts say the $19 billion that could be generated statewide would be a greater economic impact to Georgia than the Olympics were in 1996.

Gov. Nathan Deal was expected to be the guest speaker at Tuesday's event, but foggy weather in Atlanta prevented him from making the trip. Tickets ranged from $500 to $50,000 for platinum sponsors. The money will go toward promoting the referendum.

Experts say some other states are watching this vote pretty closely. Georgia is one of the first to put this kind of issue in front of the voters, and many competing states are watching to see if it works or not, while others may try something similar.

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