NC Budget and Tax Center

Across the state, North Carolinians voted for public investments

North Carolinians who cast their ballots this year made several critical choices. Among these were important ballot initiatives in multiple counties to increase public investment in transit, housing, schools, parks and redevelopment. Research shows that quality infrastructure can help raise the living standard in diverse communities and boost productivity. By choosing to devote resources to these efforts, we as voters and community members take part in the creation of more equitable communities.

But the work does not end there. There is work outside of physical infrastructure that must be done in order to ensure that our state and local communities are inclusive and equitable for all.

Across the country, voters in other states supported increased investments made possible by raising revenue in a progressive way. In Maine, residents passed an income tax surcharge for income-earners making above $200,000, from 7.15 to 10.15 percent. In California, voters supported a 12-year extension of temporary income tax increases, adding three brackets with a top marginal rate of 13.3 percent.

In North Carolina, the following referendums on public investments passed by popular vote:

Expansion and Improvement for Transit and Transportation Infrastructure

  • In Wake County, 53 percent of voters supported an increase in the sales tax by half of a percentage point (from 2 percent to 2.5 percent) in order to fund a transit plan to build a commuter rail and increase bus service in the county. This project will cost approximately $2.3 billion, and now that the referendum has been approved, the county will be able to apply for state and federal grants to help fund the plan.
  • Asheville voters overwhelmingly voted to make transportation safety more equitable through $32 million in bonds for road and sidewalk improvements, new bus shelters, accessible crossings and traffic calming.
  • Several counties away, Greensboro voters passed a ballot initiative for $28 million in transportation bonds. As in other cities, funds will be used to improve, build and extend transportation infrastructure.
  • Similarly, in Charlotte, $29 million in bonds was approved for new roads and a new bridge over I-85.[1]

Support for Public Schools

  • In Durham, voters approved $170 million in bonds to support the city’s public schools, Durham Tech and a local public museum.
  • In Forsyth County, voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to provide $350 million in bonds for public school improvements for Winston-Salem and Forsyth county schools.
  • In Orange County, voters approved spending of $120 million to repair and renovate schools in both districts. [2]

Improvements in Housing Affordability

  • Voters in Asheville (71%) approved $25 million in housing affordability bonds to boost support for the Housing Trust Fund – a program that helps create affordable housing choices – and to allow City leaders to re-purpose city-owned land to build affordable housing.[3]
  • Greensboro residents (68%) voted for $25 million in bonds to build and improve homes for low-income families. Funding will also support housing or neighborhood revitalization programs, and provide loans and grants to individuals, developers and other organizations.
  • Charlotte voters approved $15 million in bonds to build affordable housing in the city.
  • Orange County voters (65%) passed a $5 million bond for 1000 low and moderate income homes. [4]

Investments in Public Parks

  • Wilmington voters approved $30.4 million in bonds for public parks that will support the construction of 15 park projects.
  • In Asheville, voters also supported public investment in parks through $17 million in bonds to improve five major parks.
  • In Greensboro, $34.5 million in bonds was approved for buying, building and improving City parks and public recreation facilities.
  • In Forsyth County, voters approved $15 million in bonds to go towards the county’s park and recreational facilities.

Community & Economic Development

  • Greensboro voters supported $38.5 million in bonds that will allow city leaders to “buy, build, improve or otherwise equip urban renewal and community development projects.”[5]

Resources

Factsheet: Across North Carolina, People Vote for Public Investments

 

[1] http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article113434068.html

[2] http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article113437073.html

[3] http://www.ashevillenc.gov/Departments/CommunityRelations/Asheville2016BondReferendumInformation.aspx

[4] http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article113437073.html

[5] http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/index.aspx?page=4958

 

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