Local Feature · The Devil's Advocate

NC Republicans: Don’t Return Stimulus Funds…Especially for Mass Transit

Almost every candidate for elected office in 2010 put job creation at the top of their platforms.

Why then should NC republicans be proposing that we return the federal stimulus funds to improve rail service?  The state DOT estimates that turning away these funds will cost North Carolina 4,800 jobs, not to mention the indirect economic benefits these funds will have for North Carolina, both now and in the future.

Anybody who has driven on a highway in the last 50 years should have no problem with the idea that the government subsidizes transportation.  If you commute to work, if you use goods and services that come from more than a few miles away, you know that investment in transportation networks underlies economic prosperity.  For too long though, the types of transport that the government has subsidized (by building, expanding and maintaining roadways, by holding onto a massive Strategic Petroleum Reserve, by offering tax breaks to oil companies and providing military protection to oil-rich areas of the world) haven’t been the right types of transportation to invest in.   Europe’s choice to subsidize mass-transport has built strong, condensed communities where, in many places, having a car isn’t requisite for day-to-day life.  Reducing our reliance on petroleum is good for the environment, good for our national security, and moving away from the the car encourages public health and reduces the problems associated with congestion and urban sprawl.

Investments in infrastructure create jobs, and this is just the type of infrastructure we should be investing in to make North Carolina safer, greener and more efficient.

This money is good for North Carolina. As a Charlottean, I watched first hand my hometown transform when Republican Mayor Pat McCrory created the city’s celebrated light-rail system.

Rep. Ric Killian’s logic is that spending money on infrastructure is bad for business.  Rep. Ric Killian: Can you name any, I repeat any, country in the world with a successful economy that doesn’t have good railways, good roads, good ports or good airports, subsidized wholly or in part by its government?  Without government investment in transportation how are businesses going to get their employees to work, get supplies to their factory, and ship their goods to market?  Which business leaders told you they’d rather not have more freight and passenger service in North Carolina?

This isn’t just about the jobs that will be created as the improvements are actually built, but about making North Carolina a more desirable place to do business and to live.

Be a Devil’s Advocate: Contact the North Carolina General assembly and explain your vision for North Carolina.

Rep. Ric Killian of Charlotte, the lead sponsor

Rep. Jeff Barnhardt, Co-Sponsor

Rep. Rayne Brown, Co-Sponsor

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