Bill would revoke T-SPLOST penalty

As promised, critics of the T-SPLOST, the law that set up last summer’s regional transportation referendums, have proposed legislation to chip away at it.

The referendums — which asked voters to approve a 1 percent sales tax for transportation projects — passed in three of the state’s 12 regions. On Tuesday, Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, introduced Senate Bill 73. His bill would lift a penalty that is currently in place for the nine regions that did not pass the T-SPLOST.

The law that set up the T-SPLOST makes towns and counties in those nine regions pay a bigger share of project costs — 30 percent — under some regular state-funded transportation grants.

In regions that passed the T-SPLOST, the towns and counties need only pay 10 percent.

State DOT officials have pointed out that many towns and counties, especially in the Atlanta region, have long paid well over 30 percent of the costs of those projects anyways. In addition, the grants in question represent only a small portion of the state’s overall transportation budget.

It’s unclear how much support the bill will have. On the one hand, the vast majority of Georgia’s counties — 113 out of 159 — did not pass the T-SPLOST and are subject to the higher costs.

On the other hand, repealing the penalty could prompt legal challenges in the regions that passed the T-SPLOST. In addition, the T-SPLOST legislation was such a thorny issue that many legislators would rather not touch it at all. House Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Roberts, R-Ocilla, said this summer that attempts to repeal the T-SPLOST were “not going to happen.”

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