Category Archives: ESPLOST

“No other state has had a positive outcome for a charter-positive ballot initiative” —former T-SPLOST proponents now pushing charter schools

The same people who pushed the failed T-SPLOST tax referendum on the July primary ballot are now pushing the charter school referendum on the November general election ballot. Four of their leaders are the same specific individuals, including one from right here in Lowndes County. They’re pushing something they admit has failed in every other state. Let’s not be the first to fall for it.

According to the Georgia Charter Schools Association (GCSA),

No other state has had a positive outcome for a charter-positive ballot initiative

So even one of the major proponents of charter schools admits no other state’s voters have thought they were a good idea. Their slides lay out a pair of statewide major money campaigns to push the referendum anyway.

We know about this because these slides fell into the hands of the AJC, and Jim Galloway published them today, saying:

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Charter school bait and switch

Proponents of the state-forced charter school constitutional amendment Mr. Moneybags on the November ballot have a website that is full of bait and switch. Most of it is about what they claim are the benefits of charter schools. But that’s not what the referendum is about. Local school boards can already authorize charter schools, and many of them have. The referendum would change the Georgia Constitution to authorize an appointed state board to force charter schools on local elected school boards that don’t want them, granting more money per student than in public schools, with the difference to be made up from local property and sales taxes. The most substantive thing I have found on the proponents’ website says that last is not so, but unconvincingly.

Tony Roberts, President of Georgia Charter Schools Association wrote to All Charter School Leaders and Board Members 7 August 2012, Response to Letter from Herb Garrett of Georgia Superintendents Association,

Tony Roberts One final, but important point, local school superintendents and board members were adamantly against any local dollars going to charter schools that were denied by a local school board. The final version of HB 797 was negotiated to ensure that was the case — the language is written right there into the law. So, to recap, they insist on no local money going to state-approved charters, and then get upset about the state money going to charters.

Curiously, he doesn’t cite that purported language. The closest thing I can find in HB 797 is a paragraph I already quoted:

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Public schools to be treated less favorably than state-dictated charter schools?

Do you want to pay more local taxes for state-dictated and state-run charter schools? Ellis Black (R-174) In HB 797, one of the state laws we’re being asked to ratify with the charter school referendum on the ballot in November, in addition to the magic accounting rules that would grant charter schools much more money per student than public schools, it would create a state-wide charter school board that will take away all oversight from the local school board for any charter schools the state imposes on any locality. Yet it does not provide additional state funding for the extra money per student for charter schools, and it does explicitly address assessed valuation of local taxes.

The state takes all control over local chartered schools from the local school board in section 2A(7), last paragraph:

Amy Carter (R-175) The local board shall not be responsible for the fiscal management, accounting, or oversight of the state chartered special school.

Yet the state provides no additional funding for the additional money per student for charter schools:

Jason Shaw (R-176) 2A(5) No deduction shall be made to any state funding which a local school system is otherwise authorized to receive pursuant to this chapter as a direct result or consequence of the enrollment in a state charter school of a specific student or students who reside in the geographical area of the local school system.

(6) Funding for state chartered special schools pursuant to this subsection shall be subject to appropriations by the General Assembly and such schools shall be treated consistently with all other public schools in this state, pursuant to the respective statutory funding formulas and grants.

The bill also inserts each of those paragraphs again elsewhere, in case the point wasn’t clear enough.

So where is the extra money to come from? Here’s a hint:

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Georgia Trend Propagandizes for T-SPLOST

When did state tax policy become a plaything for companies, instead of a source of services for taxpayers? There’s a lot of fudging in the T-SPLOST article in the current Georgia Trend. I guess that’s not surprising when it’s mostly about the viewpoint of the CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

Ben Young wrote for Georgia Trend June 2012, Transportation Game Changer: July’s statewide referendum will determine Georgia’s economic future. There’s a lot at stake for all 12 regions.

“The reason our port is the fastest growing is because our road and rail network is so efficient,” says Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic De-velopment, another top RTR advocate. “If Zell Miller and other former administrations hadn’t done something to make the port more of a growth engine, we would now have little to no success in advanced manufacturing.”

Yet the rest of the article is all about roads, with little or nothing about rail, except for metro Atlanta and Charlotte as a comparison. Where are the rail projects linking Valdosta to Atlanta and Savannah, or the Valdosta MSA commuter rail or bus system? Nowhere in T-SPLOST.

It is also unclear how Georgia can sustain growth in logistics-related sectors that depend on moving goods quickly and efficiently — sectors believed to be leading us out of the recession — without strengthening the highway network, which has suffered due to lower gas tax revenues. Without an additional tax, there is no way to keep up what we have, much less build anything new, proponents say.

Um, then maybe the governor shouldn’t have refused to extend Georgia’s gas tax by 8/10 cent (almost as much as proposed the 1 cent T-SPLOST tax, but on gasoline, not on everything including food). And note “believed to be” and “proponents say”. Later in the same article:

People are desperate for more transportation funding and the improvements it will bring, but the referendum itself is complex.

Who are these unnamed “people”? The same “proponents” by whom things are “believed to be”? Isn’t it wonderful to base tax policy on hearsay?

If Georgia was serious about creating jobs to lead us out of the recession and into a national and world leader, Georgia legislators Continue reading

Wiregrass Technical College @ VLCIA 15 March 2011

Wiregrass Technical College wants to expand onto some land owned by the Industrial Authority, using SPLOST funds.

Chairman Jerry Jennett:

The point is they’re landlocked.

And so what you want to do is you want to take what your tract is now and have the ability to expand your building in the future. You want to move your training facility now and….

More transcription after the video:

Regular monthly meeting, Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority, VLCIA,
Norman Bennett, Roy Copeland, Tom Call, Mary Gooding, Jerry Jennett chairman,
J. Stephen Gupton attorney, Brad Lofton Executive Director,
Allan Ricketts Program Manager, 15 March 2011.
Videos by John S. Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

Roy Copeland: Continue reading


If you go to, pull down Government at the top, select Board of Elections, then Election Results, you can select a format for displaying election results. And the results at 8:50 PM 15 March 2010 are:
Total Votes: 3,546
I think it’s safe to say ESPLOST passed.


ESPLOST Election Today

If you’re not yet convinced to get out and vote today to continue the 1% ESPLOST local sales tax that pays for school buildings, books, band instruments, and sports equipment for the Valdosta and Lowndes County, Georgia school systems, here are two Facebook pages: And where you can vote. And here’s lots of detail on where the money goes. The two school boards are setting a standard for local government transparency in posting a detailed notice in the newspaper five times, holding information sessions, going to other people’s meetings and speaking, handing out flyers, etc.


Precincts for ESPLOST election

Local precincts have been changed yet again since the last election. Here are the precincts for the ESPLOST election on March 15th. According to the Board of Elections, Lowndes County Polling Places:
To find your polling place go to Secretary of State Poll Locator

Click Precincts for Map Locator and Driving Directions provided by Google Maps.

The version of their precinct list below actually has map links for each precinct. I have omitted the photographs of the polling places.
Precinct 1 Newsome St. Church, 202 S. Newsome St., Hahira
Precinct 2 Old Pine Grove Elementary School Gym, 4023 Pine Grove Road, Valdosta
Precinct 3 Westminister Presbyterian Church, 3019 Country Club Road, Valdosta
Precinct 4 Northside Baptist Church Gym, 200 E. Park Avenue, Valdosta
Precinct 5 Jaycee Park Activities Building, 2306 Jaycee Shack Road, Valdosta
Precinct 6 Naylor City Hall, 8753 Georgia Highway 135, Naylor
Precinct 7 Wood Valley Community Center, 1907 Gornto Road, Valdosta
Precinct 8 Rainwater Conference Center, One Meeting Place, Valdosta
Precinct 9 New Clyattville Fire Station, 5080 Madison Highway, Clyattville
Precinct 10 Mildred Hunter Community Center, 509 S. Fry St., Valdosta
Precinct 11 Dasher City Hall, 3686 US Hwy 41 S. Dasher
Precinct 12 South Lowndes Recreation Center, 6440 Ocean Pond Ave, Lake Park


Against taxes –Nolen Cox

Speaking to the Lowndes County Commission on 8 March 2011, Nolen Cox said businesses produce money and government consumes it, and he doesn’t like taxes.

He appears to be opposed to the ESPLOST election.

He’s the same fellow who introduced the topic of climate change denial in a Lowndes County Commission meeting.

Here’s the video.

Regular meeting of the Lowndes County Commission, 8 March 2011.
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.


ESPLOST election, now through 15 March 2011

Update 7 Mar 2011: election date fixed in this post title and text.
Here’s how to announce public finances:
To be published on February 11, 18, and 25, 2010 and March 4 and 11, 2010.
That’s five times the Lowndes County Board of Elections is publishing the details of the ESPLOST one percent sales and use tax for educational purposes. This is significant money: not more than $165 million dollars over five years, $94,875,000 for Lowndes County schools, and $70,125,000 for Valdosta schools. There are only two main ways of raising money for public schools: sales taxes, or property taxes. The local school boards use both. This is the sales tax part.

Well, there is a third way. Continue reading