NCLM Southern City, Volume 72, Issue 3, 2022

NCLM.ORG 9 fter the 2021 legislative session that saw cities and towns reap tremendous infrastructure and other funding, this year’s follow-up was, well, a bit of a bore. At least as much as any legislative session can be. That doesn’t mean that Mark Twain’s admonishment about always being aware while a legislature is in session was able to be ignored in 2022. But relative to most recent sessions, state lawmakers focused most of their attention on issues— Medicaid expansion, state employee pay raises, sports betting, and legalization of medical marijuana—not of immediate relevance to municipal governance. And even for issues that garnered all that attention, most were unable to get over the finish line to becoming law. Like most years, the biggest task before the General Assembly was passing a state budget plan. But even that task was filled with fewer roadblocks because the evenyear session involved mostly tweaks to the two-year spending plan approved in 2021 and because legislators mostly avoided placing major policy provisions in the bill. As a result, they had approved the plan in a bipartisan vote just as the fiscal year began on July 1, with Governor Roy Cooper signing it into law shortly after. As forecast in the two-year budget approved last year, this year’s spending plan beefed up the state programs that fund water and sewer investments, and also provided for some other key priorities of cities and towns. Here are a few of the budget items benefiting cities: Affordable Housing: The budget puts another $20 million into the state’s Workforce Housing Loan Program after the previous two-year budget put $170 million toward the program for 2022–23. Infrastructure: In total, $1.5 billion will go toward infrastructure, a figure that does not include the state’s two separately funded road building and maintenance funds, the Highway Fund, and the Highway Trust Fund. There are a number of appropriations targeted for specific local government projects sprinkled throughout the plan. These include grants for parks, trails, public buildings, and other public works projects. Four municipal airports will have a total of $24 million directed to them. The state’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund will receive an additional $230 million from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Resiliency/Disaster Recovery: Legislators moved $15 million from the State Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund to meet the state’s matching share for FEMA Public Assistance for pandemic- related expenses. It also provided $5 million of that money for debris removal for areas impacted by Tropical Storm A LEGISLATIVE UPDATE A Less Than Dramatic Legislative Session SCOTT MOONEYHAM NCLM Director of Political Communication & Coordination Fred. Canton, Lillington, and Colerain will receive substantial sums for storm recovery and resiliency efforts. Transportation: Federal receipts for state transportation projects increased $298.6 million due to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, bringing the total surface transportation federal aid programs receipts from the federal government to $1.4 billion. Total funding in the Highway Fund and Highway Trust Fund is expected to increase by $933 million, with a $109 million one-time transfer from the Highway Trust Fund to the Highway Fund to speed up right-of-way purchases for Strategic Transportation Investments Prioritization (STIP) projects. Within the $1.9 billion allocated to the Highway Trust Fund, $1.7 billion is for STIP projects, a $106 million increase over last year. This increase in continues on page 10