Former budget director Roberts says bond won’t raise NC taxes

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – In a little more than a month, North Carolina voters will head to the polls to decide whether to support the Connect NC bond.

Opponents are questioning whether the bond makes sense for the state’s financial future.

On Thursday, former state budget director Lee Roberts said the bond won’t mean a tax increase.

Former budget director Lee Roberts (WNCN)
Former budget director Lee Roberts (WNCN)

“It’s just a question of when we make these investments, not if we make them,” Roberts said.

When he was state budget director, Roberts could not publicly support the $2 billion bond. But now that he’s in the private sector, that isn’t true anymore.“I just encourage everyone to go out and support the bond initiative on March 15,” he said.

“I just encourage everyone to go out and support the bond initiative on March 15,” he said. More than half of the bond would go to infrastructure improvements at universities and community colleges.

More than half of the bond would go to infrastructure improvements at universities and community colleges. Supporters released a new video for the bond, which says it is a great investment in the state’s future.

Opponents question whether that is accurate, pointing to the potential impact of the bond on the state’s debt.

“If these projects are truly worthwhile, then they should be brought before our representatives to appropriate during the budget process,” said Nicole Revels, who heads up the NC Against the Bond group.

Roberts said there should not be a tax increase because of the rate North Carolina is paying off its existing debt. “Our overall debt service, that cost in the budget, doesn’t change much at all, even with the addition of this new debt,” he said. “We’ll still have less debt five years from now than we do this year, even with issuing the $2 billion Connect NC bonds.”

Roberts left state government for the private sector, joining a Raleigh investment management firm called Sharpvue Capital.

“This was an opportunity that was really too good to pass up. It was the right thing for my career,” he said.

Roberts also defended how the administration handled prison contracts granted to a Charlotte company with close ties to Gov. Pat McCrory.

Roberts said he and Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry did their jobs appropriately.“We found there was a savings by outsourcing,” he said.

Former Industrial Commission chair Drew Heath took over as budget director. Heath is McCrory’s third budget director, following Art Pope and Roberts.

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