Lawmakers are re-evaluating transportation issues after the Atlanta region voiced a resounding “no” for the T-SPLOST in July, and on Saturday state Senator John Albers and state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers held a joint town hall meeting in Alpharetta to discuss concerns and possible solutions with citizens.
Albers and Rogers spoke out against the T-SPLOST during the election, although Rogers was part of the process to get the tax on the ballot.
“Hindsight is 20/20,” he said, “The one mistake I think we made in the way this was structured, was to allow local elected officials to come together and form those projects … what was intended to be projects of regional nature with no maintenance and operations unfortunately turned into few projects of regional nature, a lot of projects of no regional nature.”
Albers and Rogers said they would be hosting several town hall meetings to discuss further options, and one element Albers pointed out was gaining the public’s trust, specifically citing the recent announcement to tear down the Ga. 400 toll.
“It’s really about public trust,” he said.
Citizens asked the state senators what is the next step for the legislature, and both agreed they wanted to repeal the entire legislation to prevent areas who voted against the tax from penalties.
“To penalize any one part of Georgia for not voting on a tax is un-American,” Albers said. “We need to fix that right away so we have the same matching dollars we had before so we can solve the problem.”
Citizens also expressed concern about what Albers referred to as the “alphabet soup” of agencies – the various entities such as the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority – and how they are run.
“It’s time to streamline, pull all those together, get rid of duplicity, have things focused, have everybody quit playing tug of war with one another and bring in people who actually know how to do that and have a proven track record to doing that,” Albers said.
Rogers mentioned the idea of government getting out of the transportation business and privatizing transportation in the area to solve problems.
“Oftentimes elected officials or government bureaucrats or whomever tend to believe that because they’re in the position they’re in they somehow have to come up with a solution,” he said. “The reality is that the marketplace is far wiser than any collection of elected officials that have ever lived.”
Both Albers and Rogers said they would continue to host more town hall meetings – including some teleconferencing town hall meetings – to gather feedback.