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Letter: State tax dollars should not fund private toll roads
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One of the most egregious bills I have ever read is making its way through the Georgia General Assembly, another “Governor’s bill” which, as usual, passed the Georgia Senate unanimously. As I write, this bill sits waiting for a vote in the House Transportation Committee to send it to the House floor, and then onto the governor’s desk.

This bill, SB 183, now known with disaffection as the “For Whom the Road Tolls” bill, places the Georgia taxpayers at risk, taking their hard-earned tax dollars or placing them into debt to loan those dollars to private individuals or businesses to build and operate unlimited numbers of toll roads throughout Georgia

Importantly, though the tolls collected by these selected private entities would be used to pay back the people of Georgia and liquidate any bonds associated with the projects, payments to the state would only continue until the taxpayer loans were paid back. Then those private entities would begin to receive the entire revenue stream of tolls associated with their particular concessions forever.

And so, if SB 183 passes into law, Georgians would be providing financing and assuming risk for private toll road ventures, conceivably all over the state. The tolls would never stop, the revenues of which would end up in the hands of those who are well-connected enough to receive these franchises.

The principle that public debt or tax dollars should provide venture capital for private gain beyond the liquidation of a project’s cost violates every tenet of a free market and the public trust, opens the door for crony capitalism and even would allow elected officials to enrich themselves once they are no longer in office.

As you read this letter, SB 183 will have either passed or been denied passage to the floor of the House, hopefully the latter. But if it does pass, you can count on the governor signing this bill into law-regardless the outrage the citizens mount against it. Anyone who voted for this bill should resign or be unseated.

Hank Sullivan

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