Here's A Devil In Budget Details: Light Rail Projects Have State Funding Cap

Sep 24, 2015

North Carolina legislators are debating the future of state funding for light rail projects.  The recently-passed budget includes a $500,000 cap on state money for light rail projects.

Critics of the cap say it defeats the intent of a “Strategic Transportation” law passed in 2013, designed to remove politics from transportation-funding decisions.

Republican Rep. Bill Brawley of Mecklenburg County says he doesn’t care for light rail. Nonetheless, he thinks the cap should be removed:

"These are big projects – multi-million dollars – and when they are funded...it’s because the engineers have found there is some merit to the project, and the locally-elected [officials] have found there is merit to the project.  So it’s not a trivial decision to build one, but $500,000 is not a meaningful contribution

Brawley says House lawmakers could vote Monday on whether to lift the $500,000 cap.   He adds that state funding for Charlotte’s light rail Blue Line–including the current extension to UNC Charlotte–is grandfathered and isn't affected by cap.

House lawmakers have also considered another provision would have withheld state money for future light rail construction in Wake County - if the county imposed a higher sales tax for transit.  Members of the House Finance Committee removed that measure Wednesday.