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Lawmakers Consider Bond For UNC System, Largest In State History

Posted June 23, 1999

— North Carolina legislators want to float the largest bond package in state history to pay for a massive expansion and renovation of the state's universities and community colleges.

The proposed bond comes just after the release of a report that said schools in theUNC systemhad construction and rehabilitation needs approaching $5 billion.

Schools in the UNC system need more than just a fresh coat of paint.

"The conditions are bad, I think. Some of the classrooms are run down and are old. I think a lot of the ceilings need to be repaired," said Summer Walker, a junior at N.C. Central University.

A recent study says state universities and community colleges have more than $5 billion worth of renovation and construction needs.

Legislators believe their $3 million plan will be a good start. They also believe there are few other options.

"I just think it's something we have to do," saysSenator Marc Basnight. "And thisGeneral Assemblywill address that, hopefully in a matter that we can complete it this year."

Under the plan,UNC-Chapel HillandN.C. Statewould each get close to $500 million.

N.C. Centralwould receive $119 million, andFayetteville Statewould get $46 million.

The state's community colleges will get close to $300 million.

UnlikeWake County's recently failed bond effort, these state bonds will not require voter approval.

Legislators say the bond would not mean higher taxes, at least in the short-term.

TheJohn Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank in Raleigh, says this bond idea fails several tests.

Foundation president John Hood also feels lawmakers should never incur this amount of debt without a referendum.

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