NC Connect bond package heads to McCrory, voters

RALEIGH – The $2 billion N.C. Connect bond package passed the state House by a bipartisan vote of 93-20 just after midnight Wednesday morning. If signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, the bond would go before voters in March to pay for upgrades to some infrastructure, community colleges, universities, and water and sewer systems. There was little debate on the bill, House Bill 943, which had passed the House on second reading Monday.

Originally proposed by McCrory as a $2.75 billion bond, N.C. Connect remained largely intact, but lost some of the new projects in infrastructure construction as it moved through the General Assembly. Lawmakers kept the projects for higher-education facilities, military communities and water and sewer grants, but most plans in the bond for upgrades to transportation infrastructure — and other projects, such as a new visitor’s center at the U.S.S. North Carolina battleship — were scrapped.

Budget writers said the $216 million that will no longer be taken from the Highway Fund to support the General Fund every year would provide substantially more than McCrory’s original plan called for.

“Planning ahead and investing in our future are conservative principles that will lead North Carolina to a brighter future,” House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said in a statement. “I am proud of the hard work put in to identify ways to extend the life of the state’s useful assets. This is money well allocated. These projects focus on areas that will boost our state’s economic activity, and partners with industry and university to continue the bond’s momentum.”

McCrory had originally requested that the bond go on the November 2015 ballot to take advantage of historically low interest rates. With the passage of House Bill 373, a measure that moves all primaries to March, McCrory now supports putting the bond package before voters in March.