North Carolina House approves transportation funding plan with no new taxes

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, May 13, 2013

The North Carolina House voted to approve a transportation funding model that doesn’t include increasing taxes or fees. It now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

House lawmakers voted 102-15 to advance an amended version of Gov. Pat McCrory’s 10-year, $16 billion funding model that calls for putting available resources to the state’s greatest transportation priorities. Specifically, HB817 would set up three tiers of projects.

North Carolina law now requires all available funding to be divided evenly between the state’s 14 Department of Transportation divisions.

The governor’s plan puts greater emphasis on ranking formulas that will be developed later. Statewide proposals would get 40 percent of funds, or $6.4 billion. Regional proposals and the state’s DOT divisions would share the other 60 percent, or $9.6 billion.

As introduced, the distribution formula called for putting 80 percent of available funds toward statewide and regional proposals with the rest slated for local work.

Supporters say the funding model takes political weight out of transportation decisions.

McCrory recently said his strategic mobility formula would better allow data-driven decisions about which project priorities advance.

Critics say they are concerned that the new formula would result in fewer projects done in rural areas and more toll roads.

One proposal removed from the House-approved version sought to include three turnpike projects in the funding formula. The House Finance Committee added the Cape Fear Skyway, the Garden Parkway near Charlotte, and the Mid-Currituck Bridge.

Rep. Bill Brawley, R-Mecklenburg, said at the time the projects were added once they became bonded. The bill’s lead sponsor said they should go through the governor’s new formula for prioritization.

The House Appropriations Committee later removed the projects citing concerns that their inclusion could sink the bill in the Senate.

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