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The folks who take care of our roads, bridges, buses, trains and bike paths seem to have a hard time understanding the rules.  First, the Board of Transportation which makes decisions about where roads and bridges are built, what gets repaired and when, regulations for oversize loads and trucks on our highways, etc… is discovered to spend almost as much time in the business of fundraising for candidates as they do making sure that our roads are adequate and safe. (About a million dollars in five years from the Board members and their families.)

Then the blue ribbon panel appointed to figure out our transportation needs for the 21st century decides to skirt open meeting laws and have a dinner, for social purposes only of course, on Figure 8 Island–a private community that most of us will never get to visit. Among the people who are on the panel and who benefit from this social time is at least one lobbyist who is no longer supposed to have the benefit of “social time” with legislators. Even the host of the dinner, Lanny Wilson, who is a major Democratic fundraiser, and also sits on the Board of Transportation, couldn’t guarantee that they wouldn’t discuss business.

Rep. Becky Carney is to be congratulated for being concerned about how it looked.  It didn’t look good.

Since it is our money and our roads they are discussing, it might be a good idea if the did it in public. North Carolinians work hard for their money and they would like to know how it might be spent. A little openness and transparency is called for here

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 As the state gears up for an extensive look at our transportation system, the Civitas Institute is planting seeds of false expectation in peoples’ minds with their claim that we can fix our transportation woes with no new taxes. Removing tax options from the transportation discussion before it has even started handicaps us in a way that is not productive.

The Civitas’ views, published in today’s Charlotte Observer, include misinformation about “raids on the Highway Trust Fund” and government excesses. Looking past their misinformation, they offer some valid points:

  • - Our growth patterns have changed and we do need to reassess where our transportation funds should be spent. For example, paving of most secondary roads has been completed and those funds could be redirected to higher priority roads.

  • -The division between the state and local governments of financial and operational responsibility for local roads could be revisited.
  • -Certainly, we should look for creative solutions but let’s not overlook the obvious ones in the process. Last year we capped the gasoline tax, which funds our road construction. Car dealers put the brakes on a car sales tax, another source of transportation funds.  

The transportation system is the backbone of the North Carolina’s economy and is a critical component of business productivity in the state. Let’s invest in our transportation system, fix the problems and make it the safe, efficient 21st-century system that every citizen deserves.