Area colleges stand to benefit from state bond proposal
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — What started off as the governor’s plan for $3 billion for infrastructure and transportation projects across the state now looks to benefit North Carolina’s community colleges and universities the most, based on a state Senate proposal.
The NC Senate Finance Committee Monday unveiled its own version of the Connect NC bond plan that would put most of $2 billion in borrowed money toward capital needs for higher education. If approved by the General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory, the bond initiative would go to voters during the November 2016 general election.
The biggest share of the money, $921.7 million, would be split up among 11 UNC System campuses. That includes $67.34 million earmarked for a Allied Health and Human Services/Nursing Building at UNCW.
The state’s community colleges would split $400 million for new construction, repairs and renovations at each campus. That includes funding for Bladen Community College ($7,446,430), Brunswick Community College ($3,265,519), Cape Fear Community College ($6,752,783) and Southeastern Community College ($7,841,853) in Whiteville.
Other money would go to North Carolina’s National Guard installations and local water and sewer systems.
What is gone from the Senate plan is McCrory’s plans for transportation and public works projects, which he criss-crossed the state promoting earlier this year. Senate leaders say the budget McCrory signed into law last week invests an additional $705 million over two years in transportation. They say that will let the state build at least 70 new highway projects, replace hundreds of structurally deficient bridges and resurface thousands of miles of roads.
McCrory’s plan also had money to help curb erosion along the Cape Fear River and $11.5 million for a new visitors center for the Battleship North Carolina. The Senate plan does not fund those projects.
The bond proposal still has a long way to go. House members have their own ideas for how the borrowed money should be spent. There is also disagreement in Raleigh on when taxpayers should get their say, as some lawmakers would prefer for the referendum to be on the ballot with next spring’s presidential primary. That now looks to happen some time in March with all of North Carolina’s other primary contests on the ballot as well.