Read More about the Issue at the Duke Dems blog: http://dukedems.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/nc-republicans-dont-return-stimulus-funds-especially-for-mass-transit/
Rep. Ric Killian,
My name is Elena Botella–I’m from Charlotte, North Carolina where I attended Myers Park, and I’m now an undergraduate at Duke University. I wanted to express my opposition to your proposal, and ask you a few questions. If you don’t mind, I might quote your responses on the Duke Democrats blog–this is an issue of interest to many Duke students.
On your platform, you said, “Traffic congestion is a significant problem in the Charlotte region. Congestion is a disincentive to economic development and decreases the quality of life of all citizens. Efforts to relieve congestion through mass transit have are questionable at best. Moreover, taxpayer dollars must be used most efficiently and therefore I continually and forcefully advocate for the completion of I -485 in North Mecklenburg and the expansion of I-485 in South Mecklenburg.” Why should roads come above mass transit as a solution to congestion in the Charlotte area?
You also emphasize that “our duty is to protect our citizens.” Isn’t a part of safety making sure the train systems are safe–why would you turn away money to improve the safety of the rail system?
In committee you said: ““Folks, what we need are private sector jobs. We do not need publicly financed jobs. Taking federal dollars for temporary jobs in our state, it’s not going to solve our economic
problems.” Why then do you advocate for the expansion of roadways in Charlotte using public funds?
I would agree with you that temporary jobs aren’t the whole economic picture, but the economic benefits of a well-maintained and efficient rail system go far beyond that.
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.
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, which is extraordinarily important to the economic future of the state.
Can I also ask, which, if any, business leaders you’ve consulted with that asked you to return the stimulus money?
My best regards,