The Connect NC Bond Act does not appear to be driven by a single coherent vision of how to use state investments to support economic growth. As can be seen below, the House and Senate versions put out over the last month have varied enormously over the total size of the bond and the type of projects to be funded. Concerns over cutting taxes while going farther into debt aside, the bond act shows that there is no single guiding star by which the legislature is sailing.
To be fair, some of this is just the legislative process in action. When you’re making a multi-billion dollar sausage, there’s going to be lots of back and forth on the ingredients. Still, while the bond bill outlines how important investments are to our economic future, it reveals relatively little consensus on what those investments are or how to make them.
Here are a few of the major changes to the bill compared to what the House presented last month (For a complete breakdown of how the bond package has changed, see the document below):
- Total package decreased from $2.85 to $2 billion
- Removed $500 million for local school construction
- Removed $400 million for transportation infrastructure
- Removed $215 million for state building and courthouse improvements
- Increased UNC system allocation from $890 to $980 million
- Increased water/sewer grants and loans to local governments from $75 to $309 million
- Increased Community College allocation from $300 to $350 million
A few other illustrative examples of how much the plan has changed:
- State Parks were allocated roughly $135 million in the House’s version from August. At the beginning of this week, the Senate eliminated all of these projects except for $45 million for the NC Zoo. The final version put the wider range of projects back in, but brought the total down to $100 million.
- Community College funding started at $300 million, increased to $400 million early this week, then settled half-way between. Under the hood, though more changes were happening as the two chambers had different plans for how to share those funds out to specific campuses.
- UNC campuses are set to receive a larger share of the final package, but there have been numerous changes to the specific projects that will be funded