Legislators consider $3.1 billion referendum to borrow for school and road construction

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North Carolina legislators are considering a bond referendum this year to borrow $3.1 billion for school and road construction projects.

House Speaker Tim Moore and other legislators filed the Education and Transportation Bond Act of 2020 on May 26 to borrow $1.5 billion for road projects, $800 million for K-12 school projects, $600 million for the UNC System and $200 million for community colleges.

House-Bill-1225

The proposed law represents a positive response to construction industry lobbying for infrastructure spending as the state faces a potential $5 billion shortfall because of lost tax revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporters of referendum believe that now is the time “to invest in the future of our state’s economic connectivity and educational success.”

“This bond proposal builds on North Carolina’s substantial investments in every community to ensure our rapid population and job growth continue as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the bill’s sponsors said in a statement..

Other sponsors of House Bill 1225 include Reps. Jeffrey Elmore, (Republican); John Torbett, (Republican), and Michael Wray, (Democrat), the Charlotte Observer reported.

Moore filed a bill last year for a $1.9 billion statewide school construction bond referendum, which passed in the House but stalled in the Senate.

Instead, the Republican-led General Assembly passed a state budget last year that they said called for committing $4.4 billion over the next 10 years for construction projects for K-12 schools, community colleges and universities, The Observer reported. The money would come from the State Capital Infrastructure Fund and not from issuing construction bonds.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the budget because of the lack of Medicaid expansion and what he said were insufficient raises for teachers.

Cooper originally called for a $3.9 billion school construction bond referendum to be put on the ballot. As a compromise, he has proposed asking voters to approve a smaller $3.5 billion bond referendum.

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