Raleigh, N.C. — Spending from the $2 billion Connect NC bond on the March 15 primary ballot "would support thousands of jobs over the next few years," according to a new report from the Budget and Tax Center, a project of the liberal N.C. Justice Center.
The report, by economic analyst Patrick McHugh, says the bulk of those jobs would be created in the construction industry. The bulk of the bond is dedicated toward building and renovating classrooms on university and community college campuses. In total, the report estimates the bond would generate 5,000 jobs over a five-year period.
The "economic benefits will be felt across the North Carolina labor market," McHugh writes. "Projects will create demand for goods and services like architecture,
engineering, transportation, and manufacturing. Even more broadly, all of the new employment will boost consumer demand, producing job gains in sectors like food service and retail trade."
McHugh also cautions that the bond is something of a down payment, and it will take "long-term funding commitments" to fully realize the envisioned benefits.
"An engineering building without equipment or engineers won’t make North Carolina more competitive. Zoo exhibits with no animals won’t enlighten our children, and public safety training facilities won’t do much good if we don’t hire new officers," he writes "As such, 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."
A key selling point of the bond has been that it won't require the state to raise taxes. While it's true that prior studies have found North Carolina has the debt capacity to borrow the money, the state will have to repay it over time. McHugh fixes the annual payment between "$150 million and $200 million "once payment is fully under way."