One of the cornerstones of Governor Pat McCrory’s term in office, a $2 billion bond, will be in the hands of the voters in just two months. And despite the fact that North Carolina’s political climate is starkly divided, this measure appears to have bipartisan support.
The NC General Assembly passed a bill approving the bond referendum last session. McCrory initially asked for $3 billion-plus, to fund a number of projects. The legislature pared that request down to $2 billion, most of which will be spent on university infrastructure and other public projects.
In theory, the bond will be repaid by state income, and will not cause an increase in taxes. Recent income tax cuts have decreased state revenue overall and have led to cuts in education spending and other state programs. That reduction in spending came on the heels of a recession, during which new building and improvement funded by state dollars nearly ground to a halt.
Also during this time, job growth slowed — and in some places, even stopped. A large multi-billion dollar investment in North Carolina could begin to be a remedy to these slowdowns.
By funding university growth, the state might create more jobs which women could fill. Beyond that, even the act of construction can spawn jobs that will support more families statewide.
There are few critics of the bond measure so far. One analyst wrote that, “Bonds are also a sub-optimal way to make up catch up on repairs…[and] would use up a huge share of the funds on repairs that should already be completed, eating away at our ability to invest in new assets that move North Carolina forward.”
Even if it’s less-than-ideal, the fact that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle support this measure gives it traction statewide. In the run-up to the March election, potentially more informed criticisms of the bond issue will come to the forefront.
In the meantime, it seems like the bond could be a win for university students and workers, a win for economic investment, and a win for McCrory, who may be able to hang his hat on the idea of major growth statewide.