Voters in the North Carolina primary will have the chance to approve a state bond that could boost North Carolina’s economy in the short run and make the state more competitive for the long haul.
Investments as a result of the Connect NC Bond Act are needed more than ever, according to a new report from the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center. Connect NC, which will appear on the ballot on March 15th, would issue $2 billion in new debt to finance public infrastructure across the state. Construction activities funded through the bond could create 5,000 jobs over a five-year period, and put almost $1.5 billion into the pockets of North Carolina workers and business owners – earnings that could help boost local economies, as working men and women purchase basic goods at community businesses.
“The Bond Act comes at a time of need,” said Patrick McHugh, BTC economic analyst and author of the report. “Much of our existing infrastructure is falling into disrepair, and we have scaled back investments in our long-term competitiveness, so the Bond Act would be a step in the right direction.”
The $980 million made available by the Bond Act would make possible construction projects across the UNC system, in addition to badly needed funds for local water, sewer and park infrastructure, the state park system, the North Carolina Zoo, North Carolina National Guard, and the Department of Public Safety.
Many of these areas are in dire need of repairs and expansion, and public infrastructure investment is long overdue, the report said. After a recession and years of tax cuts, North Carolina now invests a smaller share of the state economy in public infrastructure than it once did. Although there will still be a backlog of repairs and maintenance that will need to be addressed even if Connect NC passes, projects financed by the bond will create good, middle-class jobs.
Ultimately, the Connect NC Bond will require long-term funding commitments, the report said. North Carolina has the capacity to shoulder the new debt, but payments will be on the state’s ledger book for a long time. Capturing the economic benefits of the Connect NC Bond will hinge on whether state leaders allocate adequate funding to use and maintain the new infrastructure.
“After years of dwindling state investments, the bond will not solve all of the North Carolina’s infrastructure needs, so we can’t sacrifice other important projects to pay for the bond,” McHugh said. “However, a long-term commitment to funding public infrastructure can grow our economy and make North Carolina a better place to call home.”
Read the full report at this link: http://www.ncjustice.org/?q=budget-and-tax/btc-reports-connect-nc-jobs-infrastructure-investments-can-build-economy-works-all