February 9, 2015

Based on the new poll by the Carolina Partnership for Reform, voters are ready for change in state transportation policy with accountability being a key.

Since 1989,the gas tax has largely been tied to the up and down cycles of oil prices, usually an up cycle of higher prices and higher gas taxes because the gas tax is tied to wholesale gas prices . But with the American oil industry busting OPEC with fracking, gas taxes are headed down and might stay down. That’s a drain on highway building funds.

In the poll, 47% favor cutting the gas tax from 37.5 cents to 35 cents on March 1st and creating a floor in the gas tax so it doesn’t drop below 35 cents in the future while 42% opposed it. Such a plan would bring stable funding that could make project completion more certain. It’s viewed as nonpartisan common sense, backed by 49% of Republicans, 47% of Democrats and 45% of unaffiliated voters.

Additionally, 55% support and 40% oppose creating a highway improvement fund by borrowing $1.3 billion for road, highway and transit projects statewide. These projects won’t be political pork since the transportation reform passed in 2013 builds where the need is instead of where the most powerful politicians live.

But there is a fly in the ointment. If part of the borrowed money goes to light rail for Raleigh, 30% of bond issue supporters change their minds and the transportation bond would go down in flames by 56%, a complete switch. Voters understand the folly of Raleigh light rail like Rob Christensen recently described.

The voters are ready for effective solutions on transportation and the conservative majority was elected to lead on big things.

Rob Autry of Meeting Street Research took the poll of five hundred likely voters.