Transportation is the ticket. When we asked participants in our most recent 1Q poll what they thought was the most important issue for state lawmakers to address when they return to the Gold Dome this month, 28 percent said the state should provide more money for transit and roads.
Even though the city of Atlanta and Fulton County voters recently approved new MARTA and transportation sales taxes, about 1 in 4 respondents to the survey, which offered a list of possible issues to choose from, said more money was needed to address traffic troubles. “We are still too far behind, compared to other major cities,” a 27-year-old Sandy Springs man said.
But other issues facing state lawmakers also found strong support in the cellphone-based survey of adults in communities served by Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta INtown. Nineteen percent said the state should provide more money for schools, while 18 percent supported cutting state taxes.
“As a former public school teacher, I know firsthand how the lack of funding is a detriment to the classroom,” a 26-year-old Brookhaven woman wrote. “I also feel that qualified teachers deserve better pay.”
Providing more health insurance coverage for low-income Georgians drew support from 16 percent of the respondents. “We need to take care of the weak. It is our obligation and responsibility,” a 61-year-old Atlanta man said.
Some issues that have tied up much legislative debate in recent years ranked low among the survey’s respondents. Only 2 percent chose “Religious Freedom Act” to protect those who publicly exercise their beliefs as their top issue. Only a single respondent picked expanding gun owners’ rights.
But controversial proposals to legalize casino gambling in Georgia found support from about 1 in 10 respondents.
One respondent suggested that legal casinos might provide the answer to other problems. How? “Because it is possible that providing more money for the roads can happen with casinos,” a 32-year-old Atlanta man said. “We get two for one.”
Here’s what some of those who responded to the survey had to say:
On transit and transportation
“Out of all of the cities in the United States, I think that Atlanta is one of the only major cities … that has such poor public transportation that many people who would use it choose not to because it does not hit any destination that they need to go.”
— 31-year-old Brookhaven woman
On providing more money for education
“The education of our children is our only insurance for the future of this country. An ignorant society does not lead, but only follows!”
— 65-year-old Brookhaven woman
“Education is critical for everyone and an important foundation for our success as a state. Georgia’s rankings are low in comparison to the rest of the country and our schools need investment for improvement.”
— 41-year-old Brookhaven woman
On cutting state taxes
“Cutting taxes would allow us to save more, pay down debt and give us more disposable income to spend.”
— 47-year-old Sandy Springs woman
On providing health insurance for more low-income Georgians
“Healthcare is vital. Without health, nothing else matters.”
— 30-year-old Atlanta man
“Healthcare is a key issue, especially with the threat of repealing Obamacare.”
— 41-year-old Buckhead woman
On legalizing casinos
“Because we are in the dark ages, this would bring in great revenue for the state.”
— 43-year-old Atlanta woman
“It’s important to look for other ways of bringing revenue into our state, other than raising taxes.”
— 47-year-old Sandy Springs woman