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PCC Would Benefit from Connect NC Bond

WINTERVILLE—In addition to political candidates, North Carolina voters will be asked next month to vote on a proposed $2 billion-state bond that would fund infrastructure improvements and education statewide.

Connect NC bond supporters say the money will connect North Carolina to the 21st century through statewide investments in education, parks, safety, recreation, and water and sewer infrastructure. They point out that the bond would not require a tax increase and interest rates are historically low, making it less expensive to borrow money.

More than 15 years have passed since North Carolinians last approved a general obligation bond to upgrade the state’s infrastructure. In the time that has passed, the Tar Heel State’s population has grown by two million residents.

If the Connect NC bond passes, the state’s 58 community colleges will receive a total of $350 million (or 17 percent of the bond total). Of that sum, Pitt Community College would receive a little less than $8.4 million.

“We have many ideas for how we can utilize these funds,” Pitt Community College President G. Dennis Massey said. “We are conducting a Master Plan update this spring, which will inform our planning, though some of the funding will undoubtedly go toward renovation projects.”

Less than a year ago, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory visited the PCC campus to promote the bond with state and local legislators representing Pitt and six surrounding counties. Essentially, his message was that the Connect NC bond would allow North Carolina to begin the long-neglected task of building and upgrading its infrastructure by paying for 50-year assets with 20-year financing. Projects would take place in 76 of the state’s 100 counties.

Even with the bond, however, a majority of North Carolina’s infrastructure needs, including projects at community colleges and universities, will remain unmet. But supporters say the funding will go a long way toward connecting more citizens to educational and recreational opportunities.

Another important point cited by those in favor of the bond is that state legislators would continue to balance the budget and uphold North Carolina’s position as one of only 10 states to hold the coveted Triple-A bond rating from all three major ratings agencies. The State Treasurer and the nonpartisan Debt Affordability Committee have determined that the Connect NC bond proposal is well within the state’s current debt affordability.

Early voting begins March 2. Polls open for Election Day on March 15.