In less than two months at the March 15th primary, North Carolina voters will have their say on a bond referendum that supporters say would offer much-needed funding for the university and community college systems, National Guard, state parks and water and sewer systems.
The Connect NC bond – essentially acting as a loan – would provide $2 billion in investments in 76 counties across the state.
Jim Rose, co-chair of the Connect NC Committee, explains why the committee is seeking voter approval of the referendum, which can’t happen without it.
“Every single citizen in North Carolina will benefit in some way from the bond, and the reason it is, is that the $2 billion is going to be spread across a lot of different groups that have statewide impact,” he explains.
Rose and other supporters of Connect NC say there will be no new taxes or tax increases because of the bond and it will not jeopardize the state’s credit rating.
Gov. Pat McCrory initiated the bond referendum, and it has bipartisan support, but some Democrats are asking the governor to not appear in any ads for the bond since it is a campaign year.
Opponents of the bond referendum are concerned about additional debt and what they call political pet projects included in the project plan.
More than half of the funds will go toward the UNC system and community colleges, with water and sewer infrastructure and local parks receiving the next largest amount.
Rose says it’s necessary for the state to keep up with the population increase of 2 million people seen in the last 15 years, which is the approximate population of the state of Nebraska.
“Now we’ve got an entire state in terms of population that has moved here, we’ve obviously had a stress on our infrastructure, and so we’ve got to be able to take care of a growing population base,” he points out.
The state will pay back the bond over the next 20 to 25 years. It’s been 15 years since the last bond was authorized.