The Republican leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly recently passed their state budget, developed as a result of closed-door meetings that barred public debate or amendments.
One provision of the closed-door budget could stop all North Carolina light rail projects in their tracks. The budget sets up a procedural framework that would make it impossible for North Carolina to secure federal funding for light rail projects under current law. This provision places in extreme jeopardy the long-planned and widely supported Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project. If the provision stands, North Carolina will be throwing away $1.2 billion in federal funding that the project is on track to receive. Going forward, no light rail projects in the state, including projects in the Charlotte area, would ever be able to qualify for federal funding.
“This latest move by the North Carolina General Assembly undermines all the good work the legislature has done to take the politics out of project selection,” said SELC Attorney Kym Hunter. “This provision in the budget—which was not subject to any public debate or amendment—was a deeply cynical move designed to target a specific project that is not favored by some in our current legislature. The provision should be fixed and the transportation selection process should be allowed to proceed as designed, allowing meritorious projects to move forward when they score well based on data-driven metrics.”
In response, we are urging residents to contact your state representatives and ask them to support a technical correction to save light rail in North Carolina.