A planned $3 billion in state transportation spending has moved forward with a key vote to issue an initial round of bonds to finance construction. The Council of State, a group that includes the governor and other statewide elected officials, approved the first $300 million of borrowing on May 23.
There are nearly 40 highway projects on the construction list for this first round. The long-term plan is to do up to $300 million a year, for 10 years, to finance transportation projects around the state, Carolinas Associated General Contractors (CAGC) reports in its Weekly Legislative Update.
This “Build NC” bond package cleared the General Assembly last year, but there are a lot of logistics before the state actually borrows the money, including the recent vote. State Treasurer Dale Folwell raised concerns before the vote that led to questions from other council members, including State Auditor Beth Wood. The state initially failed to disclose some information to bond rating agencies and others as it rushed to meet a deadline looming at the June 30 end of the fiscal year.
Secretary of Transportation Jim Trogdon said this was the first bond issue his department had worked on under a new process and that the information was disclosed as soon as officials realized it needed to be. He and other state officials, including Gov. Roy Cooper‘s budget director, then vouched for the package.
“We would not be bringing this to you if we were not 110 percent confident,” State Budget Director Charlie Perusse said. After some back and forth, Wood said her concerns were satisfied. “I’m very comfortable with moving forward,” she said. In the end, the vote to move forward was unanimous. Perusse said he expects the state to get an excellent interest rate on the bonds.