RALEIGH — North Carolina House Republican leaders Monday gave life to Gov. Pat McCrory’s plan to borrow almost $3 billion for road and infrastructure spending by introducing their own proposal that would add even more money for statewide projects.
House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and other chamber leaders presented their overall $4 billion spending plan, including a $2.85 billion bond that would mostly go toward a beefed-up list of infrastructure projects laden with new additions.
Among the spending plans not included in the governor’s proposal is $500 million for upgrades and renovations to public schools, $110 million for an agricultural research lab, $75 million for clean water and sewer projects and hundreds of millions more for university and community college projects.
The House bond includes $400 million in roads borrowing, but the chamber offers to pay for more transportation upgrades in cash, at a cost of almost $1.3 billion over six years, drawing from a Senate plan to free up cash by ending annual transfers out of the state’s highway fund.
Earlier this year, the governor offered a package composed of two bonds of close to $1.5 billion apiece to fund infrastructure and road projects.
McCrory spent much of his summer months touting the plan in an attempt to win over lawmakers in the legislature, traveling the state and drawing support from many local governments and business chambers.
Although the governor touted low interests rates as a reason to put the borrowing referendum on the November ballot, Senate Republicans expressed skepticism at McCrory’s promises that the state would be able to pay back the bonds without raising taxes.
Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said senators have yet to review the full list of projects on the House plan but would be more open to using a borrowing plan to fund infrastructure while paying for transportation projects out of the highway fund.
In a statement, McCrory praised the House for taking up a bond package, which he said “aligned” with his earlier plan.
Both plans would give millions for upgrades to National Guard facilities, state parks, the state battleship museum and the state-owned North Carolina Zoo, among other capital projects.
A bill containing the House bond package was formally introduced by the chamber’s Rules Committee Monday, and leaders plan on getting general funding for transportation projects as part of ongoing budget negotiations with the Senate.
Debate on the bond bill is expected to be heard today in the House Finance Committee.