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Critics: Transportation a Loser in State Budget

Posted July 31, 2007
Updated August 1, 2007

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— Although several lawmakers tried, this year's budget does not include language that forbids transfers from the highway trust fund into the general fund.

Just as many observers say education is the winner in the state's new $20 billion budget, others say transportation is a loser.

One big reason, critics say, is that legislators transferred $170 million from the state's Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund.

"Residents of Wake County, as well as all across the state, should be up in arms about the transportation funding in this budget," Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said. "Transportation has essentially been ignored."

"In essence, I'm frustrated with this budget," Rep. Nelson Cole, D-Rockingham, said. "We're fast approaching some serious problems in our transportation infrastructure needs."

Some revenue sources, such as the gas tax, are bringing in less money. Declining revenues, along with sky-rocketing construction costs and a rapidly growing population, all mean road trouble, transportation advocates say.

"We could have done a lot more for transportation, and I hope we will in the future," said Rep. Jim Crawford, D-Granville, who helped write the budget. "I think people understand that the transportation budget is way behind, and there's some movement to try to fix that."

But there is no quick solution, lawmakers say.

The state estimates that road needs will exceed available funding by $65 billion over the next 25 years.

"We're going to be stuck in some deep potholes," said Beau Mills, chairman of transportation advocacy organization N.C. Go! "We're going to be stuck in some bad traffic before we get our arms around this problem."

Many legislators and the governor agree there was no consensus on transportation needs in this budget. They have eight months to think about it before the Legislature meets again.


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  • turnpike420 Aug 2, 2007

    hp277 - NO, money was NOT found to start building toll roads. The House said NO! See this story: http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/1659006/ They did not pass a bill that would have raised taxes to build a toll road. Imagine that, a little common sense eh? Although No Tolls on 540 was started to simply prevent 540 from becoming a toll road, finding out about the NC Legislators taking money from the Highway Trust Fund and putting it in the General Fund to the amount of $170 Million should REALLY GET YOUR ATTENTION. It has ours as well as many other things that need change.

    http://www.notollson540.org will soon be a better website than it is today, helping to explain all the whys and alternative ideas we are offering to NC. If you don't want tolls, please visit our site and sign the online petition.

  • ladyblue Aug 1, 2007

    WE must start a petition to stop robbing the highway trust fund. Easly has stolen from it every year he's been in office. This is his last term for a while isn't it?

  • hp277 Aug 1, 2007

    They found the money needed to start building toll roads.

  • 68_polara Aug 1, 2007

    It just burns me up every time I hear politicians say we need to raise taxes for roads! This year the transfer from highway trust fund was 170 million! Well I guess they're right when they say the state doesn't have money to build new roads after they remove so much money from the highway fund every year.

  • OpinionOnEverything Aug 1, 2007

    Why should anything change? Stealing from the highway trust fund is just a way for rural counties to build 4-lane roads in the middle of nowhere, where population and job growth are falling, and for other pork projects that benefit only a few in the state.

    Let's face it, the triangle, the triad, and other major urban areas are growing fast, and they contributing far more to the tax base by creating more jobs and opportunities that draw people away from smaller towns. The urban areas need to fight back and keep the highway priorities where they will do the most good. NC has the second highest number of miles of state-maintained roads in the US, so our needs are unusually high compared to other states. The only other alternative is to have the counties raise money for roads to be built, widened, and maintained, and they are already burdened by the rising cost of Medicaid. In some rural counties, Medicaid costs are higher than public education costs.

  • joco cruiser Jul 31, 2007

    All the legislators want to spend the money but none want to supply the money. I think each legislatior should have to give up one pork project a year and divert that money to the road system in their districts.