RALEIGH, N.C. — Imagine the entire population of South Carolina moving into North Carolina.
Demographers predict that is essentially what will happen by the year 2030, with an estimated 4 million more people calling North Carolina home than do today — a 50 percent population increase.
Partnership for North Carolina's Future, a new group that met Wednesday in Raleigh, argues that we all need to start planning and paying for that growth now.
The group comprises business and community leaders regardless of political affiliations. They say North Carolina has to figure out how we are going to pay to meet the ongoing needs for school and road construction, clean water and open space.
Partnership supporters packed into a press conference at the General Assembly this morning to call on lawmakers to find ways to fund the needs.
“In truth, all of this is about answering two fundamental questions: How much are our children worth? How much is the future of North Carolina worth?” Tom Lambeth of the Rural Economic Development Center said.
Members said it’s too early for specifics, but they hinted at statewide bonds and more taxing authority for counties. The state treasurer has said North Carolina could safely borrow about $2 billion in the 2007-08 fiscal year.
A controversial land transfer tax on all home sales is also getting a lot of play at the Legislature.
Plenty of critics are lining up to fight more taxes, but Sen. Daniel G. Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, one of the Partnership leaders, warned against that position.
North Carolina was known as the Rip Van Winkle State in the 1800s for turning its back on growth and progress, Clodfelter said. The state is at risk of getting that reputation back if it doesn't find ways to pay for growth, he said.