BRADENTON, Fla. — North Carolina voters will decide next year if the state should issue $2 billion in general obligation bonds to fund public improvements.
Gov. Pat McCrory scheduled the statewide referendum as he conducted ceremonial signings across the state Oct. 21 and 22 for House Bill 943, the Connect NC Bond Act of 2015.
Voters will decide on the March 15 presidential preference primary ballot whether to allow the state to issue the $2 billion of bonds.
“We fought hard for this legislation because I truly believe the Connect NC investments in education, our parks, agriculture, along with water and sewer infrastructure will increase North Carolina’s economic competitiveness and quality of life,” McCrory said in a statement.
Close to $1 billion of bond proceeds would go to the University of North Carolina System for buildings and repairs. The North Carolina Community College System would receive $350 million for repairs and renovations at its 58 campuses.
Some $309.5 million of bonds would provide loans and grants to North Carolina towns and urban centers for water and sewer projects; $175 million would update facilities at 45 state parks; and $70 million would go to National Guard Regional Readiness Centers for improvements that will increase emergency response.
State officials said they expect no tax increase will be necessary because existing bond capacity will support the new debt.
McCrory said it has been 15 years since voters approved the last GO bonds to upgrade state infrastructure.
“Since that time, North Carolina has grown by 2 million people in population and the U.S. Census Bureau projects the state will continue to experience healthy population growth for the foreseeable future,” he said.
The state had about 10 million residents in 2014, according to the Census Bureau.
Besides signing the bill this week, McCrory appointed the Connect NC Committee, which he described as a bipartisan group of state officials and community leaders that will educate the public about the bond proposal in the months ahead.
McCrory originally sought $3 billion in bond authority and planned to divvy up the proceeds between public improvement and transportation.
In their extended session this year, lawmakers stripped financing for roads and bridges from the NC Connect bill saying they had provided for increased transportation funding elsewhere in the budget.