Raleigh, N.C. - Governor Pat McCrory released the following statement today on why he will allow House Bill 1086, which establishes the North Carolina and South Carolina rail compact, to become law without his signature:
"Since taking office, one of my central goals has been better connecting North Carolinians to jobs, education and centers of commerce. Infrastructure can be a catalyst for economic development and adequate rail access to centers of economic activity is vital to the growth of our rural areas and the preservation of North Carolina’s small towns and farmlands. My 25 Year Transportation Vision announced this week notes the importance of enhancing freight movement and freight rail access in our eastern region. Where local officials, economic developers, civic groups and businesses take the lead in addressing these issues, my administration is ready and willing to help.
"I understand that a group of local leaders has organized and led a committee to find a solution to revitalize freight rail service to southeastern North Carolina. I am encouraged by recent developments in negotiations with local governments and the railroad, and I commend their hard work on this issue and willingness to sacrifice personal time and resources to promote economic development in southeastern North Carolina.
"House Bill 1086 puts in place half of a North Carolina – South Carolina commission in case local efforts fail and a joint multi-state venture at the state level is necessary. However, in doing so it creates a new commissionthat has the power to acquire infrastructure on behalf of the state, but does not report to any state agency with the expertise to acquire and maintain rail infrastructure. I have reservations about this legislation, but the new commission will not become effective until South Carolina adopts similar legislation and may require Congressional approval as well.
"Furthermore, no funds have been appropriated that would enable the Commission to purchase the rail line, and the Commission’s other duties are advisory in nature and therefore appropriate for a Commission. In the interim, I will allow this bill to become law, and I appreciate the commitments I have already received from members of the General Assembly to work with my administration to address our concerns in the 2015 Session.
"The hard work of local leaders has carved a path toward a solution for freight rail service in this region. Acquisition of this railroad by the public sector should be the last resort. As local officials in North Carolina and South Carolina move forward, my Departments of Commerce and Transportation, along with others in my administration, will continue to support the broader goal of economic development in this region through existing state and local organizations."