RALEIGH — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican legislative leaders argued back and forth Wednesday about their plans to fund transportation projects, continuing a showdown that has highlighted a divide between the Senate and the governor’s office.
Senate Transportation Committee leaders held a press conference in the afternoon to take jabs at the governor’s plan to issue a $1.37 billion bond package to fund road projects. The senators continued their flat rejection of the plan to add to the state’s debt while arguing that paying back the bond would take more money out of the highway fund in years to come.
Senate leaders want to end transfers from the highway fund and spend an additional $130 million annually for road projects. As part of budget negotiations, they have been pitching the plan to House leaders, who so far have been cool to the governor’s proposal.
McCrory’s office launched its own response later Wednesday, holding a press conference promoting the governor’s views that the state poses to save money by holding a bond referendum in November, when interest rates are low.
State Budget Director Lee Roberts rejected the fiscal basis for the Senate’s opposition to the governor’s plan and added that the governor was not opposed to ending transfers from the highway fund.
The senators also called the governor’s plan to fund projects that are shovel-ready a return to an old system where projects were selected on a political basis.
Roberts countered by saying projects were selected from atop a non-political list set up by the legislature, with the added stipulation that they have completed environmental impact statements.
Although McCrory has taken his pitch for the bond plan on the road and drawn support from many cities and business chambers across the state, time is running out ahead of the November election, and no legislators have taken action to get bonds on the ballot.