RALEIGH, N.C. – Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill Wednesday that will let voters decide whether North Carolina should incur $2 billion in debt to build new government and university buildings, water infrastructure upgrades and other projects.
Gov. Pat McCrory signed legislation that authorizes a March 15 statewide referendum and lists how the proceeds would be spent if a majority of ballots say yes to borrowing. McCrory scheduled bill ceremonies for North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus in the morning and at Lenoir Community College in Kinston in the afternoon.
In introducing McCrory Wednesday morning, N.C. State chancellor Randy Woodson said, “It’s time to invest. It’s time to invest again in the UNC system, in the community college system and across this great state. And the N.C. Connect program does that.”
McCrory said the bond is essential to North Carolina’s future.
“Our state continues to change,” McCrory said. “We are now the ninth-most populated state. So we have a choice – do we prepare for growth or do we react to growth?
“Those who stagnate and don’t continue to invest and prepare for that growth will suffer. … This is not a state that stagnates – this is a state that prepares for the future. And one thng I am convinced of is we need to prepare our infrastructure for the future.”
“It’s not if we need to do it it’s when we need to do it. And we need to do it now when its affordable.”
McCrory said North Carolina has had “years of deferred maintenance during the recession” and the bond would address that. McCrory said the bond would not require any new taxes.
For example, he said some facilities at North Carolina colleges “are very inadequate.”
The General Assembly directs $1.3 billion of the proceeds to 14 specific University of North Carolina campus projects and for work on all 58 community college campuses.
“We need to do it right now while interest rates are low. It’s like, when someone refinances their house, they want to do it when they are low not when they are high,” House Speaker Tim Moore said.
The referendum would mark the first statewide bond question on the ballot since 2000.
The bond would include a $25 million upgrade at the North Carolina Zoo and millions for North Carolina state parks.
‘Frankly, we have just ignored the state park system year after year after year,” McCrory said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.