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Gov. Easley makes his own Highway Trust Transfer proposal

With the short session of the North Carolina Legislature just underway, Governor Mike Easley proposed some changes in the annual transfer of funds from the Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund.

The governor's proposal - reduce the transfer of $172.6 million by $25 million. The ultimate goal is to reduce the transfer in its entirety. The governor did not mention how many years it would take to complete phase out the funds transfer.

Where would the $25 million go? As the gap funding for the Triangle Expressway. The change in the transfer of funds would ultimately need to be approved by the legislature.

Story: Triangle Business Journal

Commentary:

Where should I begin on this one. First, I am sure Sue Myrick, Pat McCrory, and others will enjoy this one. Myrick and McCrory, both from Charlotte, will certainly not like the fact that Raleigh would get funding to build another piece of 540 while I-485 gets delayed.

The opponents of tolling 540 will not like this because it pretty much seals the deal on building the toll road. Of course, if approved it will.

Other areas considered for tolling or behind in projects will also be unhappy about the $25 million going to a project in the capital's backyard.

Plus, we have yet to see the 21st Century Transportation Commission's final report on this. the committee had suggested eliminating the transfer completely with some of the $172 million going towards issuing a large bond issue to help fund highway projects throughout the state. The Governor made no mention of that today. This also will be a sticking point for opponents of toll projects throughout the state. (See the recent entry on the Cape Fear Skyway)

My personal opinion. I am glad to see various proposals made to end the annual transfer of the Highway Trust Funds. This is a great step forward. Personally, I am in favor of eliminating the transfer in its entirety as soon as possible (now preferably). I would be in support of a bond issue to help finance projects throughout the state. I would also have no issue on some of the money being used for 'gap funding' on toll projects. However, if it is only for one project when there are quite a few other toll projects just as important that can use the toll funding also, I can't support that. Especially when the NCTA can't even get an estimated cost narrowed down correctly.

This will be an interesting short session of the legislature on the highway front. The 21st Century Transportation Commission should formally present their findings soon.

Comments

Bob Malme said…
Quite coincidentally, the Committee released their results this morning. They call for a bond of at least $1 billion to be approved by the voters and to be paid back by ending the annual transfer of money to the general fund from the transportation fund.
See: http://www.wral.com/news/state/story/2873975/

Comment: This is what Gov. Easley ought to have said, that he'd abide by what the 21st Century Committee endorsed and work with the legislature in the remainder of his term to make it happen. I agree with Adam that his idea of a gradual reduction in the transfer would only have pitted one region against another over the amount of released monies meaning probable legislative stalemate and little getting done.

Now the fun begins. Getting the legislature to decide how much the bond will be and to allow the measure to be put on the November ballot.

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