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Vote ‘for’ state bonds

The arguments for the $2 billion Connect NC bond package on Tuesday’s ballot seem to outweigh those against it.

The key points:

• It’s been 15 years since the state’s last general obligation bond was approved by voters, and in that time, North Carolina’s population has increased by 2 million people. Those additional people put even more pressure on the infrastructure of schools, parks and cities.

• Voters are being asked to approve 20-year financing on what for the most part will be 50-year assets.

• Supporters, such as Gov. Pat McCrory, say the bond will mean no tax increase. For now, we have to take them at their word.

• It’s a good time to borrow money, because interest rates are at an all-time low. As Rowan native Phil Kirk pointed out in a recent column for the Post, the state’s debt five years from now will be lower than it is today, even with passage of the $2 billion bond.

• The specific infrastructure projects to be funded touch 76 counties, including Rowan, Iredell, Davidson, Cabarrus and Stanly.

Of the $2 billion total, the University of North Carolina system would receive $980 million; community colleges, $350 million; water/sewer projects and local parks, $312,500; agriculture, $179 million; state parks and the N.C. Zoo, $100 million; and National Guard facilities and public safety (the Samarcand Training Academy), $78.5 million.

Salisbury-Rowan Utilities might be able to benefit from $309.5 million in water/sewer grants and loans that would be made available statewide. And local parks could share in $3 million that could be offered for improvements geared to children and veterans with disabilities.

For sure, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College would receive more than $7.2 million. Of that total, $3.2 million would go toward renovating Buildings 100, 200, 500 and 700 on the North Campus in Salisbury. An additional $1 million would be spent on improvements to the North Campus’ Fire & Emergency Services Training Facility.

On the South Campus of RCCC in Concord, $3 million would go toward the Cabarrus Business and Technology Center, a remodeling of the student center and building expansions.

Community colleges in Iredell, Davidson and Stanly — all which have Rowan County students  — also would be receiving substantial funds. Overall, community colleges here or contiguous to Rowan County would see close to $22 million from the bond.

The $2 billion bond leaves much to be desired and makes a lot of assumptions. Supporters believe the governor and General Assembly will find, for example, enough state budget money for highway infrastructure needs and state historic sites, such as the N.C. Transportation History Museum in Spencer.

It has always proved difficult for Raleigh to deliver on those kinds of promises.

But the numbers for this bond package make sense, and it addresses specific state infrastructure needs long neglected.



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