With less than three months until a vote, North Carolina taxpayers are getting a closer look at what a $2 billion bond will pay for – and what other road funding plans may be coming down the pike.
State leaders will kick off the campaign to get support for the $2 billion general obligation bond for public improvements Tuesday at North Carolina State University.
The bond, set to be voted on in less than three months, will pay for work at the state’s universities, colleges and parks.
The Connect NC bond will go for a vote along with the party primary elections March 15.
Gov. Pat McCrory will lead the event at the Hunt Library at 10 a.m. Tuesday, with legislators and community leaders in tow.
UNC gets biggest share
While the bond was originally billed as a transportation bond the final product does not include any transportation projects.
Instead, 49 percent of the funds will go to the University of North Carolina system, while 17 percent will go to the state’s community college system.
The other largest chunk of the bond, at 16 percent, is directed to grants for local parks and water/sewer bonds.
The most expensive university projects include $110 million for a new sciences/STEM building at Western Carolina University, $105 million for a new nursing school building at UNC-Greensboro, and three $90 million projects for new life sciences, engineering and sciences buildings at East Carolina University, NC A&T University and UNC-Charlotte respectively.
The project is split into six categories with $980 million going to the UNC system, $350 million going to the state’s community colleges, $312.5 million going to water/sewer projects and local parks, $179 million going to agriculture, $100 million going to state parks and zoos and aquariums, and the remaining $78.5 million going to the state National Guard and “public safety.”
Other road funding looms?
Yet if transportation projects were pulled out of the bond proposal at the Legislature, the dream of finding more money for roads hasn’t died. The same kind of projects have resurfaced in McCrory’s 25-year vision for the transportation systems.
Included in the plan are projects for beach nourishment, replacing aging bridges, expanding ports and improving highways.
The legislature removed the transportation projects from the governor’s bond proposal by ending the transfer of funds from the state Highway Fund into other parts of the budget to pay for the projects instead. Now, however, lawmakers might be open to taking another run at a bond for the projects.
In a House Strategic Transportation Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions Committee meeting Monday, Susan Pillium, director of customer service with the NC Turnpike Authority at the Department of Transportation, said McCrory was open to a number of methods to pay for the projects – including bonding and public-private partnerships.
“[McCrory] is open to ideas around bonding, around ideas about private partnerships, around ideas,” she said. “He is open to conversations in general about how to provide funding.”
Committee chairman Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston) made mention of McCrory’s original bond request, noting that the transportation projects were included at the onset of the negotiations.
“I believe some of that was actually prevalent in the initial release of the Connect NC or the first reiteration had transportation money incorporated in it,” he said. “It’s a strong vision, the vision is a good vision.”
Torbett said it was just up to the legislature to make the funding happen.