0

Chamber speaker preaches the T-SPLOST gospel

Photo by Jim Massara 
Terry Lawler, executive director of the Regional Business Coalition of Metropolitan Atlanta, makes a point about tax-law changes while speaking to the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce Thursday.

Photo by Jim Massara Terry Lawler, executive director of the Regional Business Coalition of Metropolitan Atlanta, makes a point about tax-law changes while speaking to the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce Thursday.

By Jim Massara, jmassara@news-daily.com

Access to jobs, new local road projects, and less reliance on federal government were the elements of the gospel preached to business leaders Thursday morning in Morrow by a proponent of the upcoming transportation-tax referendum.

“This is the most important vote we’ve had in my lifetime,” said Terry Lawler, executive director of the Regional Business Coalition of Metropolitan Atlanta. He spoke at the monthly breakfast meeting of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, held at Clayton State University.

The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) to be voted on statewide July 31 will help fund numerous road improvements as well as measures to unclog Atlanta metro’s congested highways — some of which take Clayton County residents to work.

“A high number of people here work somewhere else,” Lawler said. “This regional tax allows that money to come back to Clayton County.”

The T-SPLOST, if approved, will also help fund projects specific to the county, including a redesign of Tara Boulevard.

Lawler brushed aside criticismof the tax, and instead emphasized how it would allow Georgia to control its own destiny.

“The Tea Party says this is terrible,” Lawler said. “But tell me another way we raise our own money, we pick the projects, we vote on whether or not we want this thing to be done. There’s nothing else that works like this.”

Besides, he added, “Who’s the federal government going to give money to? The folks that are helping themselves, or someone else that just says, ‘Gimme gimme gimme’?”

Lawler also updated chamber members on the recently completed Georgia legislative session, which he described as “one of the quietest, most effectively run sessions” he’d seen.

One of the reasons things were so quiet, Lawler said, was that newly re-apportioned legislative districts had left some legislators in danger of losing their jobs and wanting to keep their heads low.

“They’re running scared,” he said — which makes for a fine opportunity for the business community to press for answers. “They’ll have exactly what answers you’re looking for — and the answer will be either yes or no.”