As the 2012 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly winds down there are still some loose ends that must be addressed. One issue that would affect some of our members is legislation involving Public Private Partnerships and the Department of Transportation. NCDOT already has broad authority to use P3s for infrastructure design and construction. General Statute 136-18 Section 39 outlines that authority. House Bill 1077 http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2011/Bills/House/PDF/H1077v3.pdf clarifies certain areas and details of that authority. The original bill would have applied to any P3 project, but the paranoia at the General Assembly over I 95 tolling resulted in an agreement to have this section apply ONLY to one pilot project on I 77. My point in writing about this is not specifically the P3 legislation but the schizophrenic approach of the General Assembly.
It is frustrating, to say the least, to listen to the same people who have sponsored legislation to cap our gas tax argue in opposition to Public Private Partnerships and tolling. How do they think we will pay for the roads and bridges of the State? It ultimately costs the public more to build a project through P3 financing, but if something doesn’t change in regards to public investment in infrastructure we will be left with little choice. In many states, Texas in particular, P3s and toll projects have become more the norm than the exception.
For those of you who live along the I 95 corridor, I hope you will ask your elected officials how they expect to pay for the needed repairs on I 95. Without tolling, the money required to repair that interstate and to bring it up to acceptable standards would take all the money allotted to those divisions for 60 years. They would have NO money for any other projects. Do they believe that the people in the Piedmont and Mountains are going to be willing to send their road money for I 95? If so, they are mistaken.
All of this will face the 2012 legislature and our next governor. As you talk to the candidates I hope you will continue to stress the importance of these issues and the jobs you provide.
It appears that the General Assembly will adjourn Tuesday, July 2. Sunday is the deadline for the Governor to sign or veto the budget. If she does not veto it and leaves it unsigned it becomes law. If it is vetoed the General Assembly has two days to vote to over-ride the veto. There has been talk of the House and Senate leaving town if the budget is vetoed with no vote at all. If that happens the 2011-2012 biennium budget passed in 2011 remains in place with none of the changes and adjustments that are in the 2012 budget awaiting the Governor’s signature. Worse things could happen.