@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Senate gives initial OK to infrastructure bonds

Posted September 23, 2015

— The Senate voted 46-2 on Wednesday to give preliminary approval to a plan to put a $2 billion bond proposal before North Carolina voters next March.

A final vote is expected Thursday, and the House will likely vote on the bond package next week.

Under the compromise proposal, which was rolled out Tuesday, University of North Carolina campuses would receive more than half of the bond money – $980 million for new construction and $45 million for repairs and renovations.

Community colleges would get $350 million, although campuses in wealthier counties would have to meet matching requirements to obtain funds for new construction.

Funding for water and sewer grants and loans was set at $306 million. The National Guard would receive $70 million for improvements.

Another $75 million would go to state parks, and the North Carolina Zoo would get $25 million.

No transportation projects are included in the final version of the deal nor is any of the funding set aside for public school construction.

Although several senators praised the work of negotiators at crafting the package of projects to be included in the bonds, others criticized an emphasis on new construction rather than maintenance and renovations.

"It's nice to build new buildings, but we have a lot of needs out there," said Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie. "We have a lot of existing buildings out there that need a lot of work."

Brock noted the zoo plans to tear down its Africa pavilion and replace it because it never got any state support for renovating the structure.

Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, said maintenance costs need to be figured into future bond proposals so that the expense of operating new buildings doesn't put a crimp in future state budgets.

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