McCrory: Connect NC bond passing is ‘the best of N.C.’

Susan Kluttz, right, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, celebrates the passage of the Connect NC Bond Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (Liz Condo / North State Journal)
Susan Kluttz, right, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, celebrates the passage of the Connect NC Bond Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (Liz Condo / North State Journal)

Susan Kluttz, right, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, celebrates the passage of the Connect NC Bond Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (Liz Condo / North State Journal)

RALEIGH –  On Tuesday night, Gov. Pat McCrory stood before a crowd of supporters announcing that the $2 billion Connect NC bond referendum received approval from over 65 percent of the state’s voters. The crowd, on hand for a watch party at the Raleigh Marriott City Center, erupted in cheers. Before Tuesday’s primary, it had been more than 15 years since North Carolina had approved a bond to bolster its infrastructure.

“This is the best of North Carolina,” McCrory said. “And this is also a very historic night. And it’s not just a historic night because we’re preparing our universities, our community colleges, our state parks, our much needed infrastructure, especially in less-populated areas of the state, and our men and women in the service who were helping with this bond referendum.”

Advertised with a heavy emphasis on the premise that the bond would not negatively affect the state’s credit ratings or result in tax increases, the $2 billion plan allocates its funds in the following portions, according to the connect.nc.gov website:

–          $980,000,000 to the UNC System (49 percent)

–          $350,000,000 to N.C. community colleges (17 percent)

–          $312,500,000 to water/sewer repair and parks (16 percent)

–          $179,000,000 to agricultural endeavors in the state (9 percent)

–          $100,000,000 to parks and zoos around the state (5 percent)

–          $78,500 to the National Guard and public safety endeavors (4 percent)

Governor Pat McCrory speaks to supporters of the Connect NC Bond Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (Liz Condo / North State Journal)

Governor Pat McCrory speaks to supporters of the Connect NC Bond Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (Liz Condo / North State Journal)

McCrory’s statement at the watch party made no mention of the fact that he had just taken over 80 percent of the state’s Republican primary votes to snag the party’s gubernatorial nomination. The governor beat out two challengers including former N.C. House member Robert Brawley of Mooresville, who took 10 percent of the Republican vote; and Charles Moss of Randolph County, who claimed 7 percent.

Instead, the focus Tuesday night was on passage of the bond, with former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, new UNC system President Margaret Spellings, North Carolina Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten, and former Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton all adding to the victory comments.

Speaking to the group, Orr, who had earlier in the night joked that the last time he had addressed a group of primary voters was directly after a “thrashing” from McCrory during the Republican gubernatorial nomination race of 2008, said that Tuesday was “a wonderful night to be a North Carolinian.”

“We can all take a collective sense of accomplishment for the long-term wellbeing of our state because of what’s been done together,” he said. “And as the governor said, it sets a benchmark for cooperation and collaboration to address the critical issues that our state will face in the days ahead.”

Acknowledging the Connect NC bond referendum’s passage as a significant, bipartisan and statewide accomplishment, McCrory said it’s just the beginning.

“We still have a lot more to do. We still need to understand that this state continues to grow at a fast pace because people live, work and play in North Carolina,” he said. “We know we’re going to have complex problems that are going to be very, very difficult to solve in the future. And we also know that competition is getting strong – not just from our neighbors in Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina, but the competition is getting very, very strong from the rest of the United States and the rest of the world. But guess what – we will succeed if we follow this model of working together as a team. This is the best of North Carolina.”