Rather than dwell on why the referendum failed to pass, however, supporters including Mayor Kasim Reed and business leaders promised to continue trying to address the metro region's notorious gridlock and lack of mobility options.
"The democratic process worked," said Reed, who was greeted by loud applause in the downtown Marriott Marquis, where the business community held its election night party. "I respect the decision of the voters. But tomorrow I'm gonna wake up and work just as hard to change their minds."
Everything will be on the table, said the mayor, who appeared in good spirits despite seeing a ballot measure he invested so much energy into go down in flames. But he stressed that stakeholders need "a bigger table" — one with space for the myriad groups whom surely played a role in the referendum's defeat. In addition, elected officials and opponents need to boost the public's trust. (More than one person remarked to CL that the gulf between opponents and supporters hinted that "something deeper" than the $6.14 billion list of road and transit projects convinced voters to strike down the tax.)
"We have to get at the issue of why so many good, decent, honest women and men don't trust their government enough to take on a big problem," Reed said. "People need to remember tomorrow that government is the collective of us. And all we were trying to do was take on a problem that was too big for all of us individually to solve."
He added: "I ask, in a really respectful way, that we do sit down, and not wait six to eight to ten years, and we work on it right away."
Gov. Nathan Deal wasted no time rolling out his plan, one which he kept in his back pocket in case the T-SPLOST failed. Jim Galloway snagged the scoop:
The Plan B that staggered out of the governor’s office will be its polar opposite: Dramatically smaller, paid for with shrinking funds, and highly centralized. Projects will be hand-picked by a governor who intends to squeeze every penny available.
And no matter what others might say today, don’t look for a sequel to the TSPLOST referendum. A second vote has no place in the governor’s Plan B.
Instead, Chris Riley, the governor’s chief of staff, said traffic planners in regions across the state will be quickly asked to resubmit lists of road and rail proposals that require state and federal funding — figuring in an 8 percent decrease in federal funding. The governor has veto power over each list.
Riley said that Deal intends to use that authority to direct cash to absolutely essential projects in metro Atlanta and elsewhere. “The state’s top transportation priority is the Ga. 400 and I-285 interchange,” Riley said. But metro Atlanta residents could also find themselves enduring pot holes and worse for the sake of better roads around the Port of Savannah, he added.
That's just a snippet. Give Galloway's post a full read.
There's plenty of time to get wonklicious and speculate why the referendum failed, what should have happened, gaffes, and the like. Feel free to indulge if you'd like.
What should offer some comfort is that top elected officials, now that the T-SPLOST campaign is over, have made clear that they don't intend to spend a few years sitting on their hands about transportation. The question now deals with what kind of alternative solution or solutions we'll see — and if those help metro Atlanta become the kind of place we want. More election results and transportation coverage in... Jesus, a few hours.
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