This article originally appeared in The StarNews of Wilmington on February 24, 2016.
The StarNews’s Sunday story on the $2-billion ConnectNC bond question on the March 15 ballot does not fully convey the reasons for my objection to the measure.
While it is true that I opposed the bond as a legislator (and now as a voter) because it does not contain funding for transportation infrastructure anywhere in North Carolina, or money for any Pender County projects, my disapproval is based upon sound principle. I was willing to consider short-term bonding (approved by the citizens) for essential state government functions such as road construction and repair, state building renovations, or other specific infrastructure improvements.
Unfortunately, that’s not what this referendum addresses. Instead, voters have been offered a menu of potentially unneeded university projects; unspecified community college projects; and millions of dollars for parks and the zoo, which are far from the state’s highest priorities at this time.
As one example, a Pope Center for Higher Education analysis found that the average classroom seat in the UNC System is utilized only 18 hours per week, and the average lab seat is used only 11 hours per week. Our universities should be required to find more efficiency before they are granted hundreds of millions of dollars more in borrowed, taxpayer-backed funding.
Meanwhile, thousands of the state’s commuters, including those who would benefit from a Hampstead Bypass, suffer daily through time- and money-wasting road congestion. Our priorities are clearly in the wrong place with the ConnectNC bond.
Representative Chris Millis
609 Legislative Office Building
Raleigh, NC 27603