Bipartisan “Connect NC” bond on March primary ballot

ConnectNCBond

Regardless of party affiliation or candidate choice, there’s one thing on the March 15 primary ballot that all North Carolina voters can support: the proposed “Connect NC” bond package. 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.

 

Speaking to a crowd of 450 bipartisan supporters, including political leaders, educators, and members of the business community, Governor Pat McCrory made the point that North Carolina’s last statewide bond initiative was authorized in 2000, and the state’s population has grown by two million people in the 15 years since. “We have a choice,” the governor said. “Do we prepare for the future or do we want the leaders of the future to have to react to what we didn’t do?”

 

Connect NC will invest in education, local water and sewer improvements, agricultural research, recreation initiatives across the state, and security/safety, all with the goals of educating young adults for the jobs of tomorrow while increasing the state’s economic development competitiveness and quality of life.

 

Here is a breakdown of how the investments will be allocated:

66 percent for education: 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 technological world. A historic $350 million will be invested in construction and renovation projects at North Carolina’s community colleges (including Isothermal, Blue Ridge and A-B Tech).

 

16 percent for local water and sewer improvements: Investments will be made through availability of local and county loans and grants to modernize water and sewer systems to ensure water quality, economic competitiveness, quality of life and preparation for the future.

 

9 percent for agricultural research: Investments in the state’s largest economic driver – employing 16 percent 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, which will replace five separate labs averaging 40 years old, will provide critical updates and faster turnaround for vital agricultural and food safety testing.

 

5 percent for recreation: Investments in state park facilities, hiking trails, campgrounds and environmental education support 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).

 

4 percent for National Guard and Public Safety: Regional training centers will be built across the state to bolster our National Guard and increase preparedness for natural disasters and state emergencies.

 

These investments in our future will only be made with a majority vote of NC citizens on the upcoming ballot on March 15 (or in early voting). Among those encouraging voters to pass the bond package is former Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton, now president of Isothermal Community College. “(Citizens) will be voting for greater opportunities for prosperity and they will be voting for a greater future,” he said.

 

For more information on Connect NC, visit www.connect.nc.gov or find it on Facebook.                                

 

– Submitted by Polk County Farm Bureau

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