by Sam Hieb
As you can imagine, the Charlotte Observer is quite upset over the provision in the proposed budget stating “A light rail project is ineligible for scoring, prioritization, and State funding until a written agreement is provided to the Department establishing that all non-State funding necessary to construct the project has been secured.”
The Observer editorializes:
If the budget provision is approved, N.C. projects like the $3.3 billion Durham-Orange light rail — which was set to begin construction in 2020 — would lose at least half its funding. Future light rail projects in Charlotte, including a proposed Silver Line running east of uptown and a much-discussed rapid transit line through west Charlotte to the airport, would be the longest of long shots.
Such projects not only create thousands of good jobs and help revitalize neighborhoods along their routes, they also attract companies and workers that want to move to forward-thinking cities with alternative transportation options. In Raleigh, which is one of the finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters, there’s already some justifiable fretting about how the company might perceive the sabotage of the Durham-Orange project.
All of which is sadly fertile political ground for Republican lawmakers who want to divide the state.
Which brings us to a third self-inflicted problem: the massive 2016 tax increase that the Puget Sound Transit Authority persuaded voters to approve for more light rail. When taxpayers got their bills for the new taxes, they revolted and have voted down numerous school levies and other local taxes that they previously would have passed.
This means Seattle has little ability to raise ordinary taxes to pay for the homeless shelters that social justice warriors demand be built. So the council has effectively decided to impose a millionaire’s tax on the companies that employ the most people in the city.
Amazon might still come to the Triangle area. But given the climate in Seattle right now, it’s a mistake to believe their decision hinges on light rail.