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N.C. Senate Passes $2B Bond Package to Fund Infrastructure

 N.C. Senate Passes $2B Bond Package to Fund Infrastructure

Richmond County Daily Journal (Rockingham, NC)
Sept. 26 -- RALEIGH -- Although skeptical of a bond proposal passed by the House last month, Sen. Tom McInnis , R- Richmond , gave a thumbs-up to the version passed by the Senate on Thursday.
Senators approved the $2 billion bond package -- which addresses infrastructure improvements made to the state's public universities and community colleges, parks, National Guard installations and local water and sewer systems -- by a final vote of 41-2.
Republican Sens. Andrew Brock , of Davie County , and Joyce Krawiec , of Forsyth County , gave the two "no" votes. Six other senators were absent and one -- Democrat Floyd McKissick of Durham -- did not vote.
"The original bond proposal called for a far greater amount of debt, which gave me some heartburn," McInnis said in a Thursday statement. "The reason that I am supporting the current version is the fact that it will bring a significant amount of new money to every county in the 25th Senate District ."
The original plan called for borrowing $2.8 billion and included funding for highway projects, including a $17 million retread for U.S. 1 .
But as Rep. Ken Goodman , D- Richmond , noted Wednesday, all of the highway funding was taken out when the bill got to the Senate . However, he added that $200 million was added to the state budget for transportation, as a compromise.
Senators also slashed the amount that would be going to Richmond Community College for new construction and repairs by almost half -- from nearly $12 million to $7,229,431 . RCC is one of 14 of the state's community colleges slated to receive more than $7 million .
Sandhills Community College in Moore County will get $3.8 million and UNC-Pembroke will be allotted $23 million for the construction of a new business school, which McInnis said he was "particularly pleased" about.
He said the new school would be a place "where future entrepreneurs from the district will be able to obtain a first-class education and hopefully return to our district to start new business ventures."
Other regional expenditures include:
-- $2.6 million for Lumber River State Park in Scotland , Hoke , Robeson and Columbus counties;
-- $1.5 million for Morrow Mountain State Park in Stanly County ;
-- $428,250 for Weymouth Woods State Natural Area in Moore County ;
-- $8.5 million for the Department of Public Safety's Samarcand Training Academy in Moore County ; and
-- $25 million to the North Carolina Zoo .
"It's not the bond version I like," Goodman said, adding that politics is about compromise.
The bill has been placed on the House calendar for Monday.
When asked how he thought the chamber would vote, Goodman said, "I think we'll go with what we've got."
After House approval, the bond proposal will be up for a statewide vote in the March 2016 primary election.
" The Connect N.C. Bond Project is a prudent use of our borrowing ability and will provide new opportunities for every citizen in North Carolina ," McInnis said. "I urge every voter to support this bond package."
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.
(c)2015 the Richmond County Daily Journal (Rockingham, N.C.)
Visit the Richmond County Daily Journal (Rockingham, N.C.) at www.yourdailyjournal.com
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