Before North Carolina Democrats got unceremoniously run out of power, they left a few important things undone that are now coming back to bite them. The first was redistricting reform. They were either so arrogant that they assumed they would always be drawing the lines or so naive as to believe Republicans wouldn’t be vindictive once they got the pens.
The other thing they forgot to do was pass an infrastructure bill to fix our roads and bridges and update our ports and rail lines. And they forgot to fix the gas tax that would pay for it all. Now, the GOP is moving forward with plans to address these issues.
Former Democratic political operative and current Ph.D. student Will Cubbison explains what happened and how it works.
When you build roads this requires money (shocking I know). When the price of gas goes up it becomes more expensive to buy the materials needed to repair and build new roads. So years ago a GOP Governor and a Democratic Legislature set up a formula. Under that formula the tax in NC goes up when gas gets more expensive and goes down when prices fall. This is an attempt to make the gas tax work like a percent and most importantly, to remove the funding of roads from annual political fights.
A few years ago Democrats, fearing loss of the majority messed with the system, and since then each party has been fighting over who can prevent more hikes when gas prices soar, never mind trying to keep our roads and bridges in good repair.
So today the Senate Republicans released a plan that would bypass the 6-7 cent cut coming in July in exchange for a 2 cents cut ASAP and setting that price as the floor.
This isn’t a perfect solution, I agree with some Dem Senators who would like to see the floor at the current price, but that just won’t pass. This is a good compromise, and can set up cooperation for a long term solution to our dilapidated transportation infrastructure and complete lack of viable public transit.
Instead of using some common sense Koch-funded Americans For Prosperity and liberal Progress Now NC have teamed up to oppose this “tax hike” and thrown around a lot of numbers, some of which require you to believe that gas prices won’t go up more than a couple pennies over the next FOUR years.
Which is a very long way to say: North Carolina’s legislators can choose to cut transportation funding, reach a medium term compromise or support a position that isn’t politically viable. I think Democrats should support the GOP plan, and I think groups like Progress NC should ask themselves who they are helping with such vitriolic anti-tax rhetoric.
I think Will nails it.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >