- The Progressive Pulse - http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org -

Budget Preview: North Carolina’s transportation budget faces long-term $60 billion shortfall

North Carolina’s transportation system helps form vital social and economic structures by connecting people to services, jobs, and other opportunities across the state and beyond. Although North Carolina has been known as the Good Roads State, its transportation system is under considerable pressure due to aging infrastructure, increasing demand, and declining revenue sources that are failing to keep pace with rising costs to maintain and improve the system.

Just last August, the North Carolina Department of Transportation confirmed that there is a large and growing gap between transportation needs and funding. They released a report [1] estimating that the state is facing a $60 billion shortfall for transportation improvements through 2040, and that the state needs to come up with $32 billion just to keep the status quo. Ultimately, legislators control the purse strings as well as revenue options so solving this budget shortfall is largely up to them.

State legislators are still in the beginning stages of the months-long budget process when department and agency heads, as well as the non-partisan legislative staff, provide overviews of policies and programs to members of the appropriations subcommittees. But soon, legislators will carve out a new transportation budget. As they put together the biennial budget, here are a few things to look for:

Lawmakers, especially the Governor, have talked a lot of the intersection of transportation and economic revival. Indeed, transportation policy has the ability to connect people to businesses and other opportunities—especially those who are transit-dependent and living in rural areas where there has been little job growth since the economic downturn.