ATLANTA - A referendum asking metro commuters to raise their sales tax for transportation projects faces strong opposition outside of Fulton and DeKalb counties, according to a poll conducted for Channel 2 Action News.
The Rosetta Stone poll conducted Sunday sampled 850 people likely to vote in the July 31 primary when the referendum is on the ballot in 10 metro counties. Other regions of the state will hold their own referendums.
The poll found 42 percent support the referendum, while 45 percent oppose it. Thirteen percent remain undecided.
Voters in DeKalb and Fulton counties showed overwhelming support for the tax, by a 52 to 33 percent margin. The numbers are nearly exact opposites in the other eight suburban counties where the measure is opposed by a 20 point margin.
“I think the critical T in TSPLOST is trust. A lot of voters don't necessarily believe the state will do with the $6.1 billion what it's supposed to do, which is unclogging traffic,” said Channel 2 political analyst Bill Crane. “They don’t believe that this $6 billion and the pennies out of their pocket will make things better.”
The penny sales tax referendum is expected to collect more than $6 billion over the next decade to fund a long list of traffic and mass transit projects in Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties. Local governments would also receive another $1 billion for their own projects.
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The poll also found voters are split along racial and party lines, meaning that one-sided voter turnout for either the Republican or Democratic primaries could determine the outcome.
Republicans opposed the tax by 35 percent, while Democrats favored the referendum by exactly the same margin.
The poll also found the same results when divided by race – blacks favor the transportation by nearly 30 percent while whites oppose the tax by 20 percent.