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Gov. Deal says no new T-SPLOST

6:35 PM, Aug 1, 2012   |    comments
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Governor Nathan Deal

COVINGTON, Ga. -- He may have supported the transportation sales tax overwhelmingly defeated by most Georgia voters Tuesday, but Gov. Nathan Deal said he won't do it again.

"I have heard the voice of the public and respect that opinion," Deal said Wednesday morning.

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He made his remarks in Covington after a major groundbreaking for a new Baxter bio-pharmaceutical plant that will hire 1,500 high tech workers.

The governor said he will now personally take charge of the state's future transportation projects through "traditional" means such as the state DOT.

But he warned there will be less money, especially since a new Federal transportation bill will mean an 8% cut for Georgia, about $700 million less.

"We're gonna have to sharpen our pencils," he said for what will have to be a smaller list of projects.

Instead of regional "roundtables" of local politicians picking projects, Deal said a much smaller group of state officials will make any future lists.

"I see no sense in re-visiting an issue that the public has rather resoundingly rejected," he said about another T-SPLOST.

"It kinda reminds me of a spoiled child that does not get their way, so they want to take their marbles and go home," Atlanta Tea Party activist Debbie Dooley told 11 Alive News.

As part of a bipartisan coalition that helped defeat the tax, Dooley hopes Governor Deal will allow local counties to have a say in their own transportation projects.

She and other opponents have a shopping list of ideas to improve transportation, including paying for projects with $175-million of of Georgia's gasoline tax revenue that goes into the state's general fund instead of for transportation costs.

"Governor Deal has proven in the past that when the people speak loudly enough, he reverses course and listens to them," Dooley added.

But the Governor wasn't too keen on the gasoline tax idea.

"I think we have to be very, very careful that we don't rob Peter to pay Paul just because we've had a downturn in revenue for transportation," Deal said.

He also said he believes voters sent a message that they don't want any more money going to Atlanta's MARTA system "until it's fixed."

DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May called on Governor Deal to call a special session of the state legislature to put another T-SPLOST referendum on the November ballot.

Don't count on that happening.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who became the last minute poster child for the tax, said it would be very hard to bring it back to the voters.

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