@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Lawmakers want details on McCrory infrastructure plan

Posted January 27, 2015

— Gov. Pat McCrory has for months floated the idea of a $1 billion bond to pay for needed infrastructure in rural areas, but lawmakers said Tuesday they want to hear more details about the plan before committing to it.

The General Assembly reconvenes Wednesday for its 2015 session – lawmakers held a one-day organizational session two weeks ago – and McCrory is expected to be invited to the Legislative Building sometime next week to deliver a State of the State address.

Even though there has been no formal debate on the governor's plan, lawmakers said they have had informal discussions about it. The House even plans to create a budget subcommittee on Wednesday to handle capital improvement projects.

"I think that there’s some cautionary optimism. We’ve got to see how it’s put together," said Rep. Charles Jeter, R-Mecklenburg.

McCrory has provided few details other than saying the roughly two dozen projects would boost connectivity outside of North Carolina's metro areas, creating jobs and economic development opportunities in counties still reeling from the recession.

"There’s mixed emotions on both sides. Of course, the main concern is how much bond can this state handle and still maintain our AAA rating," said Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson.

State Treasurer Janet Cowell has previously said the state can borrow up to about $1.2 billion and remain within its debt margin. But other capital needs could compete for that money against the governor's proposal.

Jeter said he supports the concept of a bond but expressed concern about how the projects were chosen for inclusion. Lawmakers only last year overhauled the transportation planning process to ensure projects were funded based on need and not because a powerful politician backed it.

"This, to me, sounds like a new earmark that goes above and beyond the (Strategic Transportation Initiative) program that we just passed," he said. "Are we now politicizing roads again?"

Another question is whether the voters should get a say in any bond.

If lawmakers choose the cheapest type of bond they can get, a general obligation bond, voters would have to approve it in November.

"Anytime the state goes into debt, I personally believe that the voters should have a say in that," Jackson said.

Jeter noted, however, that waiting to put it on the ballot this fall would mean trying to approve the related legislation during next year's short session, which could be difficult.

"(That) becomes more challenging to get something like this passed because of the way we do things in North Carolina. So, now you’re really looking at two years before this gets done," he said.

He suggested using certificates of participation, a type of bond that doesn't require voter approval. It carries a slightly higher interest rate and would cost more over time, but could be put to work much more quickly.

"At some point, we’re elected to make decisions, and I think we’ve got to step up and make those decisions," he said. "The voters get to vote on us every two years, and if we’re not doing what we should be doing, I’m sure they will remind us that."

7 Comments

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  • John McCray Jan 28, 2015
    user avatar

    These must be pretty good sized projects if he plans on spending ~$40M on each.

  • New Holland Jan 28, 2015
    user avatar

    listening to the Speaker of the House Boehner talking about the US debt and kicking the can down the road, I wonder how this is different?
    If we want all the nice things we've gotten used to someone is going to have to pay for it, and once inflation kicks into gear it's not going to get cheaper.

  • recontwice Jan 27, 2015

    View quoted thread


    Pope will send him the details and contracts soon!!

  • miseem Jan 27, 2015

    View quoted thread


    What does Obama have to do with this article? Maybe I should bring up McCrory's ineptitude when I see an article on a robbery. Or maybe stay on topic.

  • Danny22 Jan 27, 2015

    Obama has wasted enough money for infrastructure. That money always goes to the unions and pet projects.

  • Dolly Butler Jan 27, 2015
    user avatar

    anything that sounds like infrastructure (much needed) sounds good to me

  • heelhawk Jan 27, 2015

    Details..... Not exactly McCrory's strong suit.