Under the Dome

NC Chamber renews push for long-term roads plan

The N.C. Chamber is stepping up its efforts to ensure that some kind of long-range funding plan for road improvements is worked out in the next few weeks as a state budget takes shape.

The Chamber has purchased more than $100,000 in TV ads to run in Raleigh, federal records show, as well as in other mediums. A few such ads have already run this year, but this is the biggest push yet, according to the chamber’s political director, Nathan Babcock. It’s part of the chamber’s year-along “NC Can’t Afford to Wait” initiative to stir up enthusiasm for highway projects.

Budget negotiations will determine what projects are funded and how. Gov. Pat McCrory wants to borrow $1.4 billion in bonds to do the work as soon as possible. Senate Republicans want to do it without going into debt, and without transferring money from a highway trust fund to pay piecemeal.

"What we’ve been saying all along is the need for a long-term plan that addresses the structural challenges with funding transportation," Babcock said. "We have not weighed in on the bonds proposal from the governor, but we have praised efforts in the House and Senate to stabilize funding."

Republican members of the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday called a news conference to reiterate the plan they are writing into the Senate’s proposed budget. They said they agree with the governor’s and House’s goal to fix roads, but they say doing it without having to pay interest on debt will stretch the spending farther.