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Bradford, Tarte: Tolls hurting McCrory; chamber honors anti-toll forces

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Jan. 15. By Dave Vieser. Two prominent state Republican legislators from Cornelius said that anger over Gov. Pat McCrory handling of the I-77 toll lane issue could impact his re-election this fall. NC Sen. Jeff Tarte and NC Rep. John Bradford made their comments at Business Today’s Newsmakers Breakfast at The Peninsula Club on Thursday.

And, in a subtle turn of irony, the Lake Norman Chamber will honor the principal anti-toll groups—WidenI-77.org and I-77 Business Plan—at tonight’s annual gala, also at The Peninsula Club. Exactly a year ago, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, one of the principal supporters of the concept of public-private partnerships when he was Speaker of the NC House, was the honored guest at the 2015 gala.

The former NC Speaker of the House is not expected to attend tonight’s sold-out gala.

Mike Russell, the chamber’s outgoing chairman of the board, said “I-77 is our ‘Main Street.’  Main street is under attack and two citizen organizations were formed to defend her.  Citizens across the political, social and economic spectrum have risen in opposition to this disastrous toll plan. Leading the fight is Widen I77 and I77 Business Plan,” he said, using an exclamation point to conclude a written sentence.

He said he is proud that during his tenure the chamber joined the battle against tolls. “I look forward to presenting the award to Kurt Nass on behalf of Widen I77 and to Mac McAlpine and Greg Wallace on behalf of I77 Business Plan,” Russell said, just a few hours before the awards will be presented.

At the Newsmakers Breakfast Thursday, Tarte was quite direct about the political strife the toll plan has caused within the GOP. “I’ve spoken to Pat and he doesn’t feel that the toll lane issue will be a major problem. I think he and his staff need to do some polling.” An outspoken toll critic, Tarte has lined up with the business community and what appears to be a clear majority of private citizens on the toll issue.

Tarte also said that the toll lane controversy is an issue on which Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper could run. “If Roy was to come up here and say he would provide state bonds to build additional lanes on I-77, I think that would be well-received.”

While admitting that the governor is in a “tough spot,” Bradford hopes voters look at the “big picture” in regard to the former Charlotte mayor’s performance in Raleigh.

“While I do disagree with him on the toll lanes, he’s done many other good things in his first term in Raleigh. He’s given the legislature the tools to make some meaningful changes which we will need to continue our fiscally conservative approach.”

Both Bradford and Tarte also stressed that the election of state legislators this fall will be very important too. “We need to maintain a super majority in both houses” Bradford said.

In response to a question on what could happen if a Democrat won the race for Governor, Bradford and Tarte believe it would signal a shift in statewide goals and priorities, more so than any punitive measures directed at the region.

While discussing politics, they also stressed that there are issues where Democrats and Republicans see eye to eye. “During the last session, there was a proposal floated which would have radically changed the sales tax distribution formula to the detriment of our region,” Bradford said. “We worked very closely with our Democratic colleagues from Mecklenburg and Charlotte to defeat this idea.”

The weighted voting structure of the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization, where Charlotte gets 42 of the CRTPO vote, was also discussed. “While it sometime seems unfair, we do have to remember that Charlotte is still the hub and generates the highest amount of revenue for the state,” Tarte said. He noted that Bank of America Stadium alone generates tax revenue in excess of $69 million annually.

One approach they are looking at is to adjust the weighted voting by project. “With the toll lanes, we have a 27 mile project and 14 of the miles are outside of the city, so why not balance the vote that way,” Tarte suggested.

The Newsmakers Breakfast was sponsored by Dixie Dean with Allen Tate in Cornelius, as well as Duke Energy, Rives & Associates CPA, Carolina Trust Bank, Davidson Wealth Management and Donna Moffett Accountants and Consultants

On other issues:

  • In response to a question on the state’s policy of requiring a CON (Certificate of Need) for medical facilities to purchase capital equipment, Tarte said he expected legislation to be introduced that would repeal this provision of state law, but most likely not until the next “long” or full session in Spring 2017.
  • Both officials stressed that the process of modernizing and streamlining the state’s income tax code and operation is continuing. “We made some very useful changes, but also needed to peel back a few, such as when we eliminated the medical expense deduction for seniors,” Bradford said.
  • As for new state legislation they will be introducing: Bradford said he is working on a bill which would permit veterans to declare their entire mortgage interest as a deduction. Tarte is working on a revision to state bill 708 which would relax the restrictions on areas where trained individuals can carry concealed weapons. “The real goal is to allow off-duty police officers to carry their weapons all the time.”

Discussion

2 Responses to “Bradford, Tarte: Tolls hurting McCrory; chamber honors anti-toll forces”

  1. Tarte and Bradford should register as Democrats!

    Posted by Norman Lake | January 16, 2016, 3:13 am
  2. I voted for Pat McCory the first time, but not again! I am sure the politicians are getting their pockets lined with the I77 deal!

    Posted by Dianne Humphrey | January 23, 2016, 8:58 pm

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