So it's the day after...as in day after elections and debate. I'll have more on those later. In the meantime, the 21st Century transportation committee will meet for the first time this afternoon, right now in fact. In light of that, the top two GOP's at the legislature released the following proposals.
From Sen. Berger and Rep. Stam
"It is time to end this neglect. Here’s a proposal for the 21st Century Transportation Committee:
1. Propose issuance of at least $2.0 billion in road bonds, the bonds to be paid with money retained in the Highway Trust Fund by discontinuing the $172 million annual transfer from the Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund; the money from the bonds to be dedicated to congestion relief and bridge safety;
2. Propose modification of the equity formula to take congestion and road miles traveled into account; doing so will target additional dollars to critically needed roads and bridges. In addition require projects to be prioritized and constructed on a statewide basis accounting for congestion and safety;
3. The Governor has demonstrated that savings can be realized in the General Fund Budget of 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent and even more. Set a 1.5 percent target for savings in the recently passed General Fund budget. Savings at that level would actually only reduce the rate of the increase in spending from 9.5 percent to 8.0 percent - which is still double the rate of population and inflation growth combined (4 percent) and will free up $300+ million to be appropriated to transportation priorities immediately. The savings could actually be recurring and provide ongoing funds for bonds or other transportation needs;
4. Propose that a substantial portion of the more than $200 million being carried forward in the General Fund Budget be used to provide money to address gap funding needs in urban areas;
5. Implement the recommendations from the McKinsey study and provide regular public progress reports with opportunities for questions and suggestions from the public and press.
All of the above can be accomplished without any tax or fee increases. This will not instantly solve the mess we have in transportation, but it will start us on the process and will provide a needed immediate shot in the arm for our crumbling transportation infrastructure. With this start we can begin to rebuild our road system and help protect and grow our state's economy. The recently released McKinsey report confirms inefficiencies within our transportation system and demonstrates the dire need North Carolina has for serious change. If these steps are taken immediately, this will be a strong signal that the Committee is engaged in serious work. "