Republicans Prioritize Infrastructure, Prepare North Carolina for Population, Job Growth
As companies eye North Carolina for large manufacturing sites, and residents moves to the cities, suburbs, and more rural areas of the state, Republicans in the General Assembly have taken significant steps to ensure the infrastructure of the state supports the increase in population and jobs.
Often overlooked, upgrades to infrastructure are vital to supporting the more mundane needs of businesses and residents like clean water, durable roads, and shovel-ready megasites.
The most recent state budget tackles these needs head on. It includes $833 million for water and wastewater infrastructure projects, bringing the total for the biennium to $2.5 billion. When considering record-high inflation, Republicans set aside $275 million to help with cost overruns for state capital projects.
To address a looming revenue shortfall facing the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Republicans created a new funding source.
Gas tax revenue has historically been the main source of funding for NCDOT, but is in danger of drying up because of shifting consumer habits, jeopardizing the transportation project pipeline. The new funding model will redirect sales tax revenue from transportation-related purchases to the Highway Fund and Highway Trust Fund to help pay for projects like resurfacing highways and replacing bridges. Starting in fiscal year 2022–23, 2% of sales tax revenue — roughly $193.1 million — will be redirected to the Highway Fund. The transfer to both funds will grow until it reaches 6%, or nearly $700 million, based on the annual amount of sales taxes on those transportation-related purchases.
Republicans have been keen on making sure North Carolina has the capacity to expand its business base. After landing two major manufacturing expansions this past year (which are being built on megasites that often require water, sewer, and road upgrades), Republicans launched a new research initiative to identify new locations for additional infrastructure improvements and job growth.
“North Carolina has grown significantly in the past decade, and it is imperative to match that population growth with hard infrastructure upgrades,” Sen. Dave Craven (R-Randolph) said. “Republicans are laser-focused on making sure North Carolina is capable of handling the influx of new businesses and residents.”