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Battle over T-SPLOST votes gets even hotter | News

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Battle over T-SPLOST votes gets even hotter

SMYRNA, Ga. --- The battle over next Tuesday's transportation sales tax vote is uniquely bipartisan.

There are liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans on both sides of the controversial issue.

One week before the vote, both sides stepped up their campaign to win over voters.

"It's okay to disagree," Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon told a packed audience at a pro T-SPLOST event in his city.

But those in the audience who disagree with the tax were not allowed to participate, only supporters.

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Former Democratic Governor Roy Barnes, a Cobb County native, dismissed criticism that the project list is flawed and won't really relieve traffic congestion.

"Is it a perfect plan? It is not, but don't compare it against the plan of salvation; compare it against what we have right now," Barnes told the large audience.

The main star was Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who's turned into one of the best evangelists for the tax.

He preached that the sales tax is in the tradition of previous risk takers who grew metro Atlanta into a major world player.

Reed also claimed the tax will help restore Atlanta's and Cobb County's struggling economies.

"I'm here to ask you respectfully and humbly as a guest to please remember that we have to stay in the future business," Atlanta's Mayor said.

Several opponents in the audience tried to chime in, but were not allowed to speak or even ask questions.

"We get kicked down the road all the time," complained Jack Staver of the anti T-SPLOST Transportation Leadership Coalition.

"Why shouldn't we be heard like everybody else?" he asked.

"If we have to vote on it and we're all part of this thing, then why aren't we part of it?" Staver added.

Meanwhile, at the State Capitol, a group of anti T-SPLOST lawmakers promised to begin working on a new list of projects the day after next Tuesday's election.

"Each one of us is committed to starting that process immediately following what we believe will be the failure of the T-SPLOST on July 31st; we have the resolve to get this right," said State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock).

Rogers, who supported the 2010 bill that set up the vote, has turned against the measure because he opposes many of the projects picked by a roundtable of politicians later.

He was joined by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville), Rep. Sean Jerguson (R-Woodstock) and Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth).

The original legislation would allow a re-vote in two years if this measure is defeated.


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