State Lawmakers Prepare to Adjourn Without Resolving UNC Bond Issue
Posted July 19, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH — Lawmakers are preparing to head home for the year without a UNC bond package. A last-ditch effort to help theUNC systempay for repairs fell apart Monday night when lawmakers failed to vote on the issue.
Lawmakers tried to resolve the issue without success when House leaders could not round up enough votes Monday night to give the schools $750 million for their most urgent needs, a drastic cut from the $3 billion originally requested.
One of the major disagreements is over whether the bond issue should be put to a public vote.
"Because we're putting forward a plan that does not raise taxes, and we can do it within our budget, then we ought to be able to try to do that, to meet the essential needs of our community right now," says bond supporterSen. Eric Reeves.
House Speaker Jim Blackagrees and feels delaying the decision will only make matters worse. "Our buildings will further deteriorate," Black says. "As I understand it, the cost of deterioration is about 80 million a year. And so they'll just continue to deteriorate, which I think is almost irresponsible."
But other lawmakers are reluctant to act without the people's permission. "The voters of this state should have an opportunity to vote on a referendum, on a bond package," saysHouse Minority Leader Richard Morgan.
Rep. Carolyn Russellagrees. "Indirectly the people of North Carolina foot that bill," Russell said. She believes that borrowing the money without public consent is wrong.
Members on both sides met privately to consider using the state's investment income to back a $650 million loan for the UNC campuses. They soon realized they did not have enough votes to pass that plan either.
There has been talk about a special session to resolve this issue but that would have to be called bythe governor. If a special session is not called, the issue would not be addressed until next May when the short session begins. Photographer:Ron Pittman