Tax bill would revive state funding for Durham-Orange light rail

Posted September 28, 2015

Backers of a 17-mile light rail line in Durham and Orange counties breathed a sigh of relief on Monday night as House lawmakers lifted a cap on state spending imposed by the budget.

Under the budget bill, North Carolina would have been able to spend only $500,000 on light rail projects, far less than the $138 million in state tax dollars project backers had planned on.

"It would have created a tremendous hurdle," said Jeff Mann, general manager of Go Triangle.

Other funding for the project comes from the federal government and local governments.

Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, who said he personally opposes light rail projects, said it doesn't make sense for lawmakers to dictate on a policy level how transportation funds should be spent. The state recently put a system of scoring transit projects in place, he said, and that system should be allowed to work.

"Let's let the professionals design the transportation system," Stam said.

He offered an amendment to Senate Bill 605, a omnibus tax measure, to repeal the transit language that was part of the budget. That amendment passed 81-28. It is now headed to the Senate along with the rest of the bill.


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