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SPLOST votes should be on individual projects
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Editor, I was glad to see the editorial in Sunday’s paper, from the Athens Banner-Herald, stating that state SPLOST laws need reworking.
As the editorial noted, “Under current state laws, voters can’t pick and choose among the listed projects [to be funded by SPLOST taxes], but must vote on the list as an all-or-none proposition... (One way) the legislature could change the SPLOST law... (would be) so that voters could pick and choose from among the projects listed in a referendum. Voters could cast ‘yes’ or ‘no’ votes for each of the projects on the list, with only those projects that reach a predetermined percentage of the vote getting SPLOST dollars.”
I wrote about this problem when the SPLOST tax was first proposed, some 25 or so years ago, when I was still living in Chatham County, and politicians there were trying to persuade voters to agree to fund what is now Truman Parkway. Although that particular project is now over and done with, and well used, it took the local politicians several attempts to get the electorate to vote in favor of this mechanism of funding that particular project. And they did so only by “packaging” it with other projects, so voters had no real choice as to which projects were going to be funded.
That was a sneaky, underhanded way of doing it, and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing it that way! Even if the project itself might have been worthwhile.
The people should have the right to choose which projects to fund with their own tax dollars! Any legislator who opposes the right of the people to choose for themselves which projects to fund, through a SPLOST mechanism, is an “enemy of the people,” to borrow the phrase from Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian playright from the last century.
This is supposed to be a “republican democracy,” not an “oligarchic dictatorship.”
Thank you for printing this editorial. It deserves to be published, discussed and voted on.

Rafe Semmes
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