But first, a dose of reality:
Interestingly, a number of the team members (including Stith) happen to be connected to another teammate, Art Pope, the businessman and former legislator who’s funded several conservative organizations and been a mentor of sorts for elected officials from the Wake County school board to the General Assembly to now a governor.
If they were realists, the editorial board would have ended it there. Art Pope has positioned his pieces all across the state government gameboard, and there will be no movement from one square to another without his approval. Which makes this observation:
McCrory, who moved to the philosophical right during his campaign, has a history as a consensus-building mayor who wasn’t much for ideology.
The truth is, that would be in line with North Carolina’s history of moderate governors, Republican and Democratic, who tried to govern in that way.
Nothing more than wishful thinking. Even if McCrory does try to moderate the tone coming out of the Legislature, which is a leap in itself, he has no stick. The only difficulty his Veto power would generate is one of scheduling; as in, when to set aside the five minutes it would take to overturn.
And as to McCrory's own apparent wish list, which I commend him for continuing to talk about post-election:
Now the governor-elect says that North Carolina needs a 25-year transportation and infrastructure plan “to send a clear signal to the business community of the state’s future investment in roads, railroads, bridges, ports, airports and other infrastructure.”
You can write all that into your Budget proposal that you send to the Legislature, but most of it will be missing when that Budget comes back to your desk to be signed. Here's a brief glance at the mentality behind Art Pope's virtually nonexistent infrastructure plan:
A second major recommendation urges transportation planners to "live with less," Coletti said. "The highway program must be refocused on stewardship rather than ribbon cutting," he said. "Improving, and then maintaining, road conditions must be the first priority, not the last."
That means avoiding new construction projects with very low levels of cost-effectiveness, Coletti said. "The state could impose a cost-effectiveness criterion on new projects, such as rejecting any project that costs more than three times the average rate per vehicle-mile," he said. "Steering money away from those projects would boost the amount of money available for maintenance."
Aside from the fact that topographical and logistical issues can make the cost of new projects vary greatly, making any kind of formula not only pointless but likely counter-productive, dispensing with new road projects will simply (and steadily) increase the costs of maintaining the old ones. Not to mention the astronomical fuel (and lost production time) costs of vehicles idling while waiting for their turn to navigate the cones.
And as to McCrory's railroad plans:
Passenger rail rarely makes economic or environmental sense even in large, relatively dense urban communities in the United States. It makes no sense whatsoever in corridors such as Raleigh-Wilmington. Randal O’Toole explained why in a recent JLF study on the subject:
North Carolinians should look below the surface of the federal plan, O’Toole said. “Only a small portion of the FRA system would consist of true high-speed bullet trains,” he said. “North Carolina and 30 other states could expect no better than moderate-speed trains with top speeds of 110 miles per hour and average speeds between 55 and 75 miles per hour.”
That’s why North Carolina should limit the ways it proposes to use federal stimulus money, O’Toole said. “North Carolina should apply for a share of the $8 billion solely for incremental improvements to existing rail lines such as better grade crossings,”
And that last was a concession on their part. Pope and his minions would like nothing better than to see passenger rail completely fail, and they will be working behind the scenes in Raleigh to make that happen.
If McCrory's infrastructure plans are more than just talk, he's got his work cut out for him.
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