Prominent lawmakers blast transportation referendum - CBS46 News

Prominent lawmakers blast transportation referendum

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Some prominent lawmakers who originally voted to approve a measure to let voters decide if they want to raise metro Atlanta's sales tax to pay massive overhaul to the region's transportation systems are now urging the public to vote against the initiative.

Voters will decide on July 31 if they want to add one percent of the region's sales tax to pay to upgrade the area's aging streets, highways and rails.

The transportation special purpose local option sales tax, commonly known as T-SPLOST, would last for 10 years and raise more than $7 billion.

Rogers and the Transportation Leadership Coalition held a press conference Monday morning to criticize the proposal, calling it a tax hike that doesn't solve the transportation problems.

"Frankly, I've been against every tax increase since I was 18 years old Rogers said. "I'm voting against it at the ballot box because it's a bad plan."

Rogers, the senate majority leader in the Republican-led Georgia State Assembly, earlier voted to allow the question of whether to raise the sales tax to become a referendum on the July ballot. CBS Atlanta asked Rogers if that was a contradiction.

"No, it's not a contradiction at all. I trust the people to make up their minds even though I disagree with a decision they may or may not make," Rogers said.

"Voting to put something on the ballot and voting for it are two different things," Rogers said.

Rogers said he voted to put the issue on the ballot so the public could make the final judgment.

"The voters themselves ought to have the right to make that decision whether I agree or not," Rogers said.

Sen. Vincent Fort, the democratic whip, originally voted to put the transportation on the ballot as well. On Monday he called the proposal "a bad idea" because it would saddle Fulton and DeKalb counties with heavier tax burdens.

CBS Atlanta asked Fort why he did not try to stop the referendum before it went to the public.

"I had reservation. I tried to make it better," said Fort, who last year introduced a bill to eliminate the parts he did not like.

CBS Atlanta asked Fort if the proposal was such bad idea why did he vote to put it on the ballot.

"It was an idea that should have been considered (by the voters)," Fort said.

Rep. Pat Gardner, (D) District 57, supports the referendum.

"It is important to the economic development of our region," Gardner said.

Some critics of the plan have suggested corporations put early pressure on lawmakers to vote to place the referendum on the ballot.

Gardner denied being pressured.

"I can only speak for myself and they did not put pressure on me," Gardner said.

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