Defeat $2.2 Million State Bond Issue On March Ballot

By / Letters to the Editor / Wednesday, 17 February 2016 05:00

Dear Editor,
Most people do not know but in addition to the primary vote on March 15th, North Carolinians will also vote to approve or disapprove a $2.2 billion dollar bond request. Credit must be given where it is due. Kudos to the Republicans for doing it correctly by putting it to a vote of the people. Something Democrats ignored. Credit must also be given for the lowering of our debt especially paying off the money borrowed from the Feds for unemployment, a multi- billion repayment.
However, the issues involved with the bond are such I must recommend people consider voting not to approve.  First of all, it needed to be put on the ballot in November when the greater majority of North Carolinians vote.  In 2012, the last Presidential Election year, only 35% of North Carolinians voted in the Primary. Contrast that to the 68% that voted in the General Election and you wonder if the reason for the bond vote as part of the Primary is the hope with less people voting it will pass.
In addition, January 2016 polling by the NC Civitas Institute reveals several misconceptions the voters have over the bond issue. They polled 500 likely voters in each party. 30% were cell phone owners. 66% of Democrats said they supported the bond issue.  In contrast 42% of Republicans supported the bond. Remember the bond was passed by a Republican Legislature and signed by a Republican Governor. Civitas found  the majority of the people polled believed the money would used for improving or building new roads and/or bridges. In fact 50 % of Democrats and 58% of Republicans believe the bulk of the money will go to roads and bridges. This misconception might be fed by the way the slides are presented at NC CONNECTS. They highlight their overall points on the bond by labeling it "Investing in Infrastructure". Too many people equate infrastructure with roads and bridges.
Nothing is further from the truth. There is no finding in this bond for any road or bridgework. $980 million (49% of the bond ) will go to the UNC system for building construction or renovation. The UNC system appears to be favoring new construction over repairs. Another $350 million or 17% of the bond will go to construction or renovation of Community Colleges throughout the state.  An additional $179 million (9%) is listed as Agriculture but will in fact construct new buildings on UNC campuses or renovate  a few existing ones, all dedicated to Agriculture. $78 million (4%) will be allocated for renovation or building 3 new National Guard Centers in 3 counties. Another county will get funding to develop a training center for police and correctional officers. Approximately $100 million (5%)  will go Parks and Zoo projects. The remaining $312.5 million (16%) will be made available as grants/loans to various localities for water and sewer infrastructure.
The State says this bond can be funded over many years without a tax increase. However, the Civitas poll revealed the people do not believe that. In fact, 67% of Democrats and 76% of Republicans believe the bond will increase taxes. Maybe they realize this Legislature and Governor cannot commit future State governments to not raising taxes to pay for the bond.
While it is true interest rates are very low, the issue is whether we want to take on many additional years of debt committing future generations to paying it back. In fact if you couple the bond payback with the National Debt, I am not sure we are not mortgaging the futures of our kids and grandkids for generations.
It has been labeled as 50 years of investment paid for in 20 years.  Does anyone really believe that it will cover 50 years of infrastructure? There has been some talk there might need to be another bond in several years to address road and bridge construction or repair. That makes sense especially if you understand the $2 billion +- we spend annually comes from gas taxes and the Feds in about equal proportions. With the Feds in more and more debt there is no guarantee that money will be forever. In addition, with ever improving gas mileage, the funds collected from gasoline taxes will continue to decline.  Further, not one dime will go to K to 12 Education in North Carolina. Anyone can look at the conditions of most of our schools. When comparing them to existing buildings for higher education, we find the K to 12 campus' to be in much worse shape. Since there are projects that appear to be in each county, it appears this might be a demonstration of legislative pork that allows each legislator to take home the "bacon" before they face reelection. If what I say makes sense, please join me in defeating this bond issue. Either way be sure to vote March 15th.
Sincerely
Bill Moore
Kure Beach, NC

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