NC Governor Stresses Need For Transportation, Building And Utility Funding
DURHAM, NC North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, during a meeting with nearly 120 Carolinas AGC (CAGC) members (construction contractors and suppliers) said that his agenda will continue to focus on infrastructure funding, improving vocational education and providing incentives to draw businesses to North Carolina.
"Some of the costs of maintaining our public buildings are more than they are worth," McCrory said, adding the lights in the aging Albemarle Building in the State Government Complex either all must be turned on or off. "We can't even find a way to turn the lights off at the Albemarle Building."
McCrory's comments were made at CAGC's quarterly Triangle Executive Club luncheon. The 2015 CAGC quarterly luncheons have included presentations from North Carolina Commerce Secretary John Skvarla, North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry and Rep. Dean Arp, who is a Chief Sponsor of legislation that will result in a $2 billion statewide bond referendum on March 15, 2016, for building, utility and parks infrastructure improvements.
McCrory's comments touched on wide-ranging issues in a conversation moderated by CAGC President and CEO Dave Simpson as well as questions posed from the audience.
The governor noted that the new strategic mobility formula takes politics out of the equation and instead relies on a data-driven process that involves such factors as traffic counts and congestion relief. Before recently adjourning the long session of the North Carolina General Assembly, lawmakers approved what will amount to about $1.2 billion in new transportation spending in the current biennium. That figure includes the elimination of transferring from the Highway Fund to the General Fund about $216 million annually. McCrory said he has been a longtime supporter of those actions.
The governor emphasized the value of community colleges and training for construction and other areas, adding that there continues to be a need for more workforce development initiatives. "Not everyone needs a four-year college degree," McCrory said.
The governor also noted that the $2 billion unemployment insurance debt has been eliminated, the corporate tax rate continues to be reduced and other tax code changes will continue to benefit the state. He will continue efforts in the short legislative session, which begins April 25, 2016, to eliminate a legislatively approved cap on transit funding that will affect light-rail construction primarily in the Triangle and Charlotte, North Carolina. McCrory noted that funding for ports in Morehead City, North Carolina, and a coordinated strategy for funding involving North Carolina military bases will continue to be a priority.
Berry Jenkins, North Carolina Government Relations and Highway-Heavy Director for CAGC, said that the transportation funding changes are excellent.
"Not only has the strategic mobility formula virtually eliminated politics in project programming, but it also has improved the accuracy of when projects will be let to contract, which greatly enhances the ability to plan for resource needs involving our members and the construction industry," said Jenkins.
McCrory also discussed his strong support of the $2 billion construction funding referendum that will be on the statewide ballot next March. Betsy Bailey, North Carolina Government Relations and Building Director for CAGC, said CAGC will work with a business coalition for the passage of this bond referendum.