Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) announced his opposition to the plan at a press conference at the state Capitol with members of the Transportation Leadership Coalition, which is working to defeat the tax.
“I believe in the people’s right to vote on issues that impact their lives,” said Rogers. “And I strongly urge the people of Georgia to exercise their right to vote down what would be the largest tax increase in our state’s history.”
Rogers said most of the money wouldn’t help solve traffic congestion in the metropolitan area and many of the projects will still need funding long after the 10-year tax expires.
“Essentially, if we pass the 10-year tax, we’re telling the next generation of taxpayers they will also have to fund this because you’re not going to shut down the mass transit system, you’re not going to stop the trains, you’re not going to quit construction on the projects in the middle of the projects,” he said.
Rogers’ stance puts him opposite other Republican leaders including Gov. Nathan Deal, who supports the plan.
Georgia lawmakers last year voted to allow 12 regions throughout the state ask residents whether to approve a 1-cent sales tax hike to fund a pre-approved list of projects.
The vote is set for this month’s primary, and voters were able to begin casting early ballots Monday.
Rogers had a non-voting position on the committee that drew up the project list last year but he did not attend the meetings. He said he missed the meetings “because I was working my regular job.”
Rogers said an alternative to the referendum needs to be more about roads and less about mass transit, which accounts for more than half of the current projects.
The General Assembly can authorize another referendum on a 1 cent sales tax for transportation in two years, he said.