North Carolina’s transportation funding challenges have never been more pressing, and as a business community we must act now if we hope to secure positive transportation outcomes during the short session. Here at the Chamber, we recognize the need to find immediate funding solutions for critical transportation projects – and we’re reactivating our NC Can’t Afford to Stop Coalition to make sure that we do.
In recent years, as costs from storm damages have surged and as a diversified, secure stream of revenue sources continues to elude our grasp, North Carolina has faced immense challenges in funding the projects needed to keep our transportation network growing and moving at the same pace as the rest of our state. Uncertainty in the funding process has led to countless delayed projects, while the recent Department of Transportation Cash Spending Plan conducted by the office of State Auditor Beth Wood has revealed a funding picture at DOT that is overbudget and simply not sustainable. These problems, of course, have only been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has squeezed off gas tax revenues and threatened to derail our entire economy.
Fortunately, the NC Chamber and the business community have a history of leading on transportation issues. In 2015, we launched our NC Can’t Afford to Wait initiative, which helped secure more than $1 billion in transportation revenue for our state, including millions in recurring revenue. We continued that success last year with our NC Can’t Afford to Stop Coalition – the successor to that first initiative – which helped pass legislation that infused almost $300 million into DOT by way of the Highway Trust Fund and Build NC bonds. But we still have work to do if we hope to clear the road ahead. That’s why we’re rebooting the NC Can’t Afford to Stop Coalition now, to help us push for immediate solutions as the legislature works to relaunch our economy in response to COVID-19.
Mark Coggins, who recently joined our team as director of government affairs, is leading this initiative; he has been working closely with members of the coalition to engage with state leaders and narrow down our list of immediate funding options for this current session. But we need your company’s involvement to get us over the finish line – if you haven’t already, we urge you to add your company’s name to the coalition today and help us ensure the voice of North Carolina’s business community is heard loud and clear at the legislature.
Now more than ever, North Carolina’s business leaders cannot afford to stop if we hope to secure our immediate transportation future and lay the groundwork for a conversation around longer-term sustainability in our state. Stay tuned – in the coming days and weeks we will continue to update you on the progress of this coalition.