The Obama Administration’s new proposed budget includes funding for Charlotte’s street car project. City officials have banked on receiving that money to build the street car, but it’s still no sure thing.
The president’s budget includes $75 million to extend the street car from Johnson C. Smith University to Elizabeth, half the projected cost and the exact amount city officials say they need from the federal government. But, this is only a proposal from the president. The Republican Congress will ultimately craft and send funding bills to the president for his signature. Nevertheless, Mark Harkins at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute says it’s a positive step.
“When you have a $4 trillion budget, Congress can’t look at every single individual element and grade it, there’s just not enough staff,” says Harkins. “My thinking of this is about 85 percent of what’s in the president’s budget is about to become law.”
But the budget also calls for adding $3 billion to pay for the street car and transportation projects across the country, in a budget Republican lawmakers are already criticizing for ramped up spending.
“It’s not simply whether they like the particular project or not,” says George Washington University public policy professor Stuart Kasdin says that could be a problem. “They also have to be willing to accept all that new money.”
Both budget experts agree the support or opposition of North Carolina’s Republican senators could make or break the streetcar’s chances as federal funding bills work their way through Congress.