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House and Senate Conferees Agree on Budget

The House and Senate leadership announced agreement on a budget today.  President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Speaker Thom Tillis held a press conference at 11:30 a.m.and gave highlights of the budget.  The full budget was not available to the public until 5:00 p.m. today.

Here are the Transportation budget highlights:

  • The House version requiring NCDOT to use a 35 cent gas tax for planning and projection purposes has been removed. Great news for us!
  • The 37.5 cent cap on the gas tax that was in both budgets remains in place.  It is for one year. That is as good as we could expect.
  • All ferrys will be tolled except the Knotts Island Ferry and the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry.  The Board of Transportation is empowered to set the rates.
  • Unpaved secondary roads will be subject to a prioritization process.  
  • Public Transportation New Starts (capital projects) have been removed from the Highway Fund and will now compete for funding in the Highway Trust Fund along with other transportation projects.  They will be subject to the prioritization process that NCDOT has put in place. I believe it is good public policy to remove capital projects of any kind from the Highway Fund so that it can be used as planned for maintenance of existing assets.
  • The gap funds for the Mid-Currituck Bridge and the Garden Parkway are transferred from the Turnpike Authority to the Mobility Fund for the FY 2012-13.
  • NCDOT is to conduct an economic impact study of a toll on I 95 and report back to the General Assembly by March 2013.  In addition, no toll can be placed on I 95 before July 2014.  This provision does not have any requirement for the General Assembly to approve tolling I 95.  We did not want such a reuirement.  The study was already planned by DOTand a toll cannot be placed before July 2014 anyway.

 We expect the Senate to vote on the budget tomorrow and the House on Thursday.  It is beginning to look like the adjournment date of June 30 set by the Senate today could be a reality.  That would be the earliest end to a session in my memory.  This report to you is based on a quick review of the conference budget report so I reserve the right to correct any errors or oversights I may realize upon closer examination.

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