Transportation infrastructure is a key economic issue not only for North Carolina but also at the national level, as the federal government spends about $50 billion each year on federal transportation projects. However, the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax has remained the same since 1993 and only accrues about $34 billion annually. In lieu of a modernized federal transportation revenue formula that raises enough funds to keep pace with the reality of spending, and with the federal Highway Trust Fund expected to empty its coffers by July, Congress last week passed a short-term extension to allow that fund to continue operating before heading out of town for the long Memorial Day weekend.
The extension is just another in a long line of short-term patches to continue funding transportation projects and will require Congress to pass another short-term fix by July 31 to keep funds flowing. As this problem becomes more difficult to solve, Congress has been forced to resort to ever more obscure sources of revenue – like pension smoothing and user fees – to find the necessary funds with each new fix. This latest failure to implement sustainable transportation reform at the federal level underscores North Carolina’s need to act now to secure the long-term, recurring funds required to meet the current and future transportation demands of our state’s businesses and residents.
With North Carolina growing quickly and on the cusp of “super-state” status, a decision to act now on long-term transportation reform is a decision in support of future job growth and the continued economic competiveness of this great state. We feel certain that our elected leaders will not follow the Congressional example of punting problems down the road to complicate potential solutions – we know they possess a bold vision for our state’s future and the courage to act now to secure that vision. The NC Chamber applauds the Governor and members of the General Assembly for working toward real transportation solutions during the 2015 session, and we look forward to continuing to work with them, encouraging them to sustain the strong leadership needed to make North Carolina the “Good Transportation State” once again.
I encourage you to visit www.nccantaffordtowait.com and let your elected leaders know that North Carolina must be proactive to ensure the safety of our entire transportation network. Listen to the NC Chamber’s new radio ad about North Carolina’s need to act now to solve the transportation funding crisis.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber