News & Messages

‘Step up to the future’

It is again time, Governor Pat McCrory said, for North Carolina voters to “step up to the future” by approving the $2 billion Connect NC bond on March 15.

During the past century, North Carolina voters have said yes to the future again and again – including a $40 million highway bill called for by Governor Cameron Morrison and the $3 billion higher education bond that Governor Jim Hunt advocated for 15 years ago.

That bond, which voters overwhelmingly approved in November 2000, was the last time a statewide bond was on the ballot, said McCrory, who was among a host of speakers during the official campaign kickoff for the bond held January 5 at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on North Carolina State’s Centennial Campus.

In those 15 years, he added, the population of North Carolina has grown by two million, making the total number of state residents 10 million, and making North Carolina the ninth-biggest state in the country.

“North Carolina is in the big time now and we need to prepare for the future,” McCrory said. “We have a choice. Do we prepare for the future or do we want the leaders of the future to react to what we didn’t do?”

For these critical investments, McCrory added, “there will be no tax increase for any citizen in North Carolina.”

Almost two-thirds of the bond would go to support higher education. The UNC system would receive $980 million to build and repair facilities to prepare students for high-demand fields that are critical for driving North Carolina’s economy. Carolina’s share of the bond would be $68 million for a new medical education building. (More information can be found at

“North Carolina’s future as a healthy, vibrant state demands that we train more physicians and health care professionals to care for our growing, aging and longer-living population,” Carolina Chancellor Carol L. Folt said. “The Connect NC Bond would invest in critical facilities at UNC’s School of Medicine that will increase Carolina’s ability to save lives and make a meaningful impact in all 100 counties of our state.”

NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson, who opened the event, said his campus would receive $75 million for a new engineering building, along with $85 million for the Plant Sciences Initiative Complex to establish North Carolina as a world leader in plant sciences research.

“There is an old saying that if you don’t keep moving eventually you will get run over,” Woodson said. “The Connect NC bond will keep North Carolina moving.”

In total, the 17 UNC system campuses would receive a total of $980 million, with another $350 million slated to modernize facilities within the 58-member community college system.

As former NC Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, the co-chair of the Connect NC Committee pointed out, the bond was designed to meet a wide-ranging set of needs, with projects that would support 76 of the state’s 100 counties.

The bond would provide a total of $75 million to update facilities at 45 state parks, along with $25 million to upgrade support facilities, trails and exhibits at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, Orr said.

The bond would also invest $309.5 million in statewide water and sewer loans and grants to meet the demands of a growing population, and another $79 million in construction for National Guard Regional Readiness Centers in Burke, Guilford and Wilkes counties.

Jim Rose, the regional president of the Yadkin Bank in Raleigh, who serves on the five-member Connect NC working committee, said folks had questioned him about why they should support the bond because they did not see anything in it that would directly benefit them.

Rose concluded by asking people to raise their hands – “and keep them up” – if they or a member of their family had attended a UNC system institution. More than half the audience members raised their hands.

He then asked people to raise their hands if they or a family member had attended a community college campus. More hands shot up.

“And how many of you were around in the 1990s to witness National Guard members respond to Hurricane Fran or Hurricane Floyd?” he asked.

By then, just about all hands were raised, but Rose asked one final question to emphasize just how far-reaching the impact of this bond could be.

“How many of you have ever drunk water from a water fountain?”

By then, all hands in the room were raised.