In their proposal today for LESS state spending -- more than $2 billion less than Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue's proposed budget -- Republican legislative leaders mention one area that deserves MORE spending: highway maintenance and repaving.
Instructions to the House and Senate transportation appropriation subcommittees (attached below) include this call for a $100 million maintenance boost:
Strengthen the maintenance of transportation infrastructure. For many years, North Carolina has inadequately funded the maintenance of pavement, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure. Please develop a plan to increase the budget for maintenance and contract resurfacing by at least $100 million through a combination of savings, efficiencies and the reallocation of resources.
Perdue also has recommended more maintenance spending this year.
Last summer, when Democrats ran the legislature, they cut highway maintenance by $4.4 million for fiscal year 2010-11. Perdue's budget proposal recommends increasing maintenance spending by $83 million in FY 2011-12 (to a total $976 million), and by $105 million in FY 2012-13 (to $998 million).
Ted Vaden, a DOT deputy secretary, said DOT is ready to work with Republican leaders on infrastructure improvements.
"If you look at our annual report, we have identified repavement and bridge repair as high priorities for the department," Vaden said. "Their focuses are similar to ours."
Other transportation spending suggestions from the Republicans:
* Update the spending priorities and allocation formulas set in 1989 when the legislature created the Highway Trust Fund. "We believe this model needs to be evaluated to determine whether funds, given current budgetary constraints, are flowing to the right transportation programs in appropriate amounts, and whether funds within these programs are going to the most meritorious projects," the GOP report said.
* Consider outsourcing more DOT engineering and maintenance work.
* Curb land and equipment purchases.