by: Jim Bradley Updated:
New buildings on college campuses, new construction projects in state parks and $2 billion in borrowing. That’s what state leaders are asking voters to approve in the first statewide bond referendum in 15 years.
At a kickoff event in Raleigh, Gov. Pat McCrory launched Connect NC.
“We are not in the big time and we need to prepare for the future,” McCrory said.
The bond package would sprinkle projects across the state with the majority of the money going to the campuses of colleges, universities and community colleges. At the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, $90 million would go to build a new state of the art science lab that Chancellor Phil Dubois said will train workers needed by area businesses.
“Look at the companies that have come to Charlotte recently. Sealed Air, Electrolux, they need talented engineers and scientists,” Dubois said.
Much of the money will go toward smaller projects, including state parks, the National Guard, and water and sewer projects.
At Central Piedmont Community College, $9 million would be used to build a new power plant that President Tony Zeiss says is critical to expansion plans.
“I don’t know how we would do them if we didn’t have this money,” Zeiss said, “we’d have to wait for another local bond issue and there one be one until 2018.”
Supporters of Connect NC point out that the bond package won’t require a tax increase.
It will, however, need approval from voters. Political expert Eric Heberlig said by targeting colleges and universities all over the state the bond campaign has a savvy strategy.
“People aren’t paying attention to the particular projects or buildings. They just need to know that’s an institution I know and trust and I’m willing to spend money on that," he said.
The bond package will be on the statewide ballot on March 15 when voters to go the polls in the presidential primaries.
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