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Tea partyers rally against road tax
Group gathers to voice opposition to T-SPLOST on July state ballot
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John Lipscomb, vice president of the Lanier Tea Party Patriots, poses for pictures Saturday during a Tax Day Rally held by the Lanier Tea Party Patriots at Poultry Park in Gainesville. Lipscomb arrived at the rally dressed as a militia man. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

They wanted something akin to the Boston Tea Party, but this time, the tea was in plastic cups and some of it was sweetened.

Between 40 and 50 people gathered Saturday afternoon at Poultry Park to rally against the upcoming vote on a proposed sales tax in Georgia for transportation projects.

The tax to fund transportation infrastructure will be voted on regionally July 31.

It has been supported by some of Georgia’s highest-ranking lawmakers, who say it will fund projects that will ease traffic congestion and make the state more attractive to business.

But members of the tea party movement demonstrated their distaste for the regional plans Saturday, pouring tea from plastic cups to symbolize their opposition.

“We felt, as the tea party, that we should dump this tea,” said event coordinator Mary Landry. “Because this tax is not something that we need. We don’t feel that we need another tax.”

The gesture was a throwback to the 1776 activism by colonists in the Boston Harbor, who destroyed taxed tea in protest over lack of representation.

The Lanier Tea Party Patriots said Saturday that Georgia’s T-SPLOST puts Georgia counties in a similar situation, alleging that the tax would violate counties’ right to home rule.

“Lawsuits are starting with this,” Bill Evelyn of the State of Georgia Tea Party told the crowd.

Members of the movement generally oppose higher taxes and other policies that they say stray from the state and U.S. constitutions’ original intent. Their rally Saturday came ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to file income taxes.

“The tea party movement is not going away,” said organizer Mike Scupin. “It’s not dying. It’s only getting more powerful in the heart and minds of the people.”

Bill Greene, another speaker at Saturday’s event, scoffed at the idea of higher income taxes for those earning more than $1 million a year, an idea first proposed by investor Warren Buffett and pushed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.

“Don’t give me a ‘Buffett Rule’ — give me a buffet rule, where I can pick and choose what I want to pay for,” Greene shouted.

Evelyn said the T-SPLOST would be “the largest tax hike in the history of Georgia.”

He and Landry questioned why, if the tax was going to benefit transportation, it wouldn’t be charged on motor fuel.

“The tax isn’t even on gasoline, which is what you would tax if it’s a consumption tax for the roads,” Landry said.

“It’s going to help the Georgia Department of Transportation and it’s going to help MARTA downtown, but it’s not really going to help the single mom who drives a couple of miles to the (store) and spends an extra percent in tax when she really doesn’t use that much road, but she has to spend that much more money.”

Regional events