Vote yes for bipartisan “Connect NC” bond
Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2016
To the editor:
I’m writing to my fellow Polk County voters on behalf of the Polk County Farm Bureau, your local non-profit advocate for agriculture and the rural lifestyle (not to be confused with NC Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company).
Regardless of your party or candidate choice, there’s something on the March 15 primary ballot that we can all support: the proposed “Connect NC” bond. The $2 billion bond package will not raise taxes and is actually estimated to reduce state debt within five years, according to the state’s budget director.
“Connect NC” has the bipartisan support of the state’s political leaders, educators, and members of the business community; in fact, no one has organized any opposition to it.
But in order for “Connect NC” to pass, it has to have the majority vote of NC citizens on the March 15 primary ballot (with early voting starting March 3).
As Governor McCrory pointed out, North Carolina’s last statewide bond was authorized in 2000, and the state’s population has grown by two million since then. The choice, he said, was to “prepare for the future, or (make) the leaders of the future react to what we didn’t do.”
“Connect NC” will invest in education, local water and sewer improvements, agricultural research, recreation initiatives, and security/safety, all with the goals of educating young adults for the jobs of tomorrow and increasing our economic development and quality of life. Here is how those investments will be made:
Education (66%): Major investments will be made in the state’s university system to provide state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) facilities that can produce a workforce qualified for jobs in the increasingly competitive and technological world. A historic $350 million will be invested in construction and renovation projects at community colleges (including Isothermal, Blue Ridge and A-B Tech).
Local Water and Sewer improvements (16%): Local and county loans and grants will be available to modernize water and sewer systems to ensure water quality, economic competitiveness, quality of life and preparation for the future.
Agricultural Research (9%): Investments in NC’s largest economic driver – employing 16% of our workforce – include $85 million for the Plant Sciences Initiative at NC State University (increasing plant yields for safe, affordable food) and $94 million for a new co-located laboratory facility for the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The new lab will replace five separate labs averaging 40 years old, and will provide critical updates and faster turnaround for vital agricultural and food safety testing.
Recreation (5%): Investments in state park facilities, hiking trails, campgrounds and environmental education will improve quality of life and tourism. Projects will include completion of the 1,000-mile “Mountains-to-Sea State Trail” and expansion/renovation at the North Carolina State Zoo (and projects at Chimney Rock, Mount Mitchell and South Mountain State Parks in WNC).
National Guard and Public Safety (4%): Regional training centers will be built across the state to bolster our National Guard and increase preparedness for natural disasters and state emergencies.
Among those encouraging voters to pass the bond package is former Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton, now president of Isothermal Community College, who said, “You will be voting for greater opportunities for prosperity and a greater future.”
So please look for the “Connect NC” bond on your primary ballot and vote FOR it to help prepare our area and the rest of state for that greater future. For more information on “Connect NC” visit www.connect.nc.gov or find it on Facebook.
Doug Harmon, President,
Polk County Farm Bureau