NC Budget and Tax Center

North Carolina needs to invest in infrastructure, according to national study

With North Carolinians set to vote on a $2 billion Connect NC Bond Act on the March 15th primary, a new national report shows how badly the funds CBPP Infographic - Its time to Investare needed.

The author, Senior Fellow Elizabeth C. McNichol warns that neglecting infrastructure has serious consequences for a state’s growth and quality of life. “States must turn their attention back to the type of infrastructure investments that will boost productivity, support business growth, create jobs, provide a healthier environment, and improve opportunities for all of their residents,” McNichol wrote.

(Stay tuned next week for a NC Budget and Tax Center analysis on estimates of the economic impact of the Connect NC Bond Act investments)

The report shows that investment in unmet infrastructure needs will improve North Carolina’s economy now and in the future. Modernizing transportation systems and other infrastructure boosts productivity by supporting businesses and residents, improving the education and job readiness of future workers, and helping communities to thrive. Key infrastructure improvements also will provide immediate job opportunities for Americans who are working less than they would like and making less than it takes to get by. Infrastructure investments typically bring higher wages and better quality of life for years in the future.

States and localities own 90 percent of the nation’s non-defense public infrastructure, so this problem has to be solved here at home in North Carolina. The Connect NC Bond Act is a first step to strengthening North Carolina’s infrastructure for a growing economy.

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NC’s environment: Great 2013/’14 round-up; Clean water at risk

Water pollutionThis morning’s NC League of Conservation Voters news update contains a link to a very helpful and informative blog post on environmental policy by a former DENR official, who’s now out on her own. The post is entitled “Environmental Policy in N.C. : Looking back at 2013 and forward to 2014.”

The League’s update also provides this very troubling news (especially in light of the water pollution disaster in West Virginia in recent days):

“Administrative Watch: Clean Water on the Line

Every meaningful state protection for clean water in North Carolina will be at grave risk of being cut back or eliminated in the rules review process starting this week in Raleigh. Read more

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Suit challenging Asheville water system grab heard in Superior Court

Howard ManningState Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, Jr. spent better than two hours in a Raleigh courtroom this morning listening attentively and asking numerous questions as lawyers for the City of Asheville and the Attorney General’s office debated the constitutionality of legislation passed this spring by the General Assembly to seize the City of Asheville’s municipally-owned and managed water system and turn it over to a newly-formed regional entity.

Though the hearing featured a great deal of give and take between the judge and the lawyers, the argument was clearly dominated by Asheville’s lawyer, Mecklenburg County Senator Dan Clodfelter. Clodfelter, an attorney at the firm of Moore and Van Allen (which is, ironically enough, Governor McCrory’s old employer) offered a lengthy and detailed presentation in which he explained the history of the Asheville system and the almost comically ham-fisted efforts of conservative legislators to remove the system from city control as part of a longstanding partisan battle.

Manning, one of the state’s most experienced and respected jurists, clearly grasped the legal (and political) realities of the case from the outset of the hearing.

At one point, Read more

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News report: Lawmakers threaten Asheville officials with payback over water lawsuit

Reporter David Forbes at Mountain Xpress posted a disturbing story yesterday evening about the controversial move pushed through the General Assembly by Buncombe County state legislators to convert the city of Asheville’s water and sewer system into a regionally-controlled asset. Here is the lead:

“Emails obtained by Xpress reveal that some state legislators have asked city of Asheville representatives to drop their lawsuit contesting a state-mandated transfer of the water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District. The emails also show legislators discussing the fate of legislation that consolidates Asheville and Buncombe County parks-and-recreation services — a move that could save the city $5 million a year. Further, the candid discussions shine a light on a long-rumored proposal that the state may force Asheville to switch to district-based elections.

Vice Mayor Esther Manheimer says the city is being ‘told to settle the lawsuit or else’ face more unwanted legislation. Read more