Projects can be funded without ‘Connect NC’
Voters should vote “against” the misnamed $2,000,000,000 ($2 billion) “Connect NC” bonds on the March 15th ballot. These bonds should be called the “Disconnect NC” bonds because of the disconnect between our elected state representatives and state taxpayers.
These bonds are a blatant attempt to buy, at taxpayers’ expense, special interest votes, and be resumé enhancers for politicians running for re-election in November.
It defies logic how the bond funds would be distributed. All 17 UNC system universities would get at least one new or renovated building at a total projected cost of $1.07 billion. All 58 N.C. community colleges would share $350 million for “new construction, repairs, renovation.” All 45 N.C. state parks, natural areas, trails and the N.C. Zoo would share $100 million. The state’s water/sewer and local parks funds would share $312 million. The remainder goes to other miscellaneous projects.
Christmas would come early for every N.C. university, community college, and state park!
State spending must be prioritized between “wants” and “needs.” The most important “needs” receive appropriations from the budget. “Wants” are discarded. This is how the legislature has done it over the past 15 years since voters approved the last state bonds.
If these bonds are not approved, the “needed” projects will still get funded.
These bonds are not the $2.8 billion “Connect NC” bond program proposed early last year by Gov. McCrory. It concentrated on roads, rails, and ports. The legislature removed all transportation projects, added many new projects, but retained the name.
This has succeeded in confusing voters. A January poll of voters showed 50 percent thought incorrectly the bonds were for transportation. Spending on roads is popular in traffic-plagued eastern N.C. Other bonds are not so popular.
There was no urgency requiring a March vote. If approved, it is planned to sell bonds in roughly equal portions over the next four years. The bonds were placed on the March ballot for political reasons. Only about half as many voters will vote in March as in November, giving bonds a better chance of approval. It also gives bond opponents much less time to present their case. Politicians would not get their resumé enhancers with a November vote.
Financing projects through bonds is much more expensive than using budget appropriations. At state-projected 3%-4% bond interest rates, and up to 40 year terms, depending on final bond terms, interest costs could be $1.5 billion for a total bond cost of $3.5 billion. Why pay $3.5 billion for $2 billion in projects when cash flow is available?
The state’s cash flow is strong as evidenced by: recent repayment of a $2.8 billion federal loan for unemployment benefits; the $400 million budget surplus in 2014-2015; adding money to the “rainy day fund;” and others. There is no need for bond financing.
I urge voters to mark the “against” box for the “Connect NC” bonds. Every truly “needed” bond project can still be funded through budget appropriations, and costs will be far less.
Vic Drummond — Franklin, N.C.
Women can’t choose where they want to be equal
Courageous of George Hasara to take on the delicate issue of Selective Service (MCN Feb. 11).
Let me begin by stating I have never favored women in combat, not when I was on active duty (1960-1980), or at any time since.
However, the United States has changed considerably over the last half century. I was on active duty in the 1970s when “affirmative action” was formed and implemented and then later, “equal opportunity” practices took hold and despite what you’ve been told or would prefer to believe, standards and principles were modified to accommodate and pursue these new customs.
In order to recreate everyone “equal,” sacrifices had to be made. In this case, in order to strengthen the weak, the military weakened the strong, and have been doing so ever since. Standards were lowered, requirements reduced, and we continue to pretend it’s creating a better military. Does anyone really believe the formidable requirements to be a Navy Seal can be met by women without reducing the standards and compromising the Seals’ ability and effectiveness in carrying out a mission?
As to the question of registering for Selective Service, I absolutely do believe it should (and must) include women. Women cannot just pick and choose when and where and how they want to be considered equal, even though it has sure seemed that way for the last 50 years. There are ways to serve in the military other than direct combat. First and foremost, Selective Service has to be gender neutral.
During the Vietnam War I was furiously opposed to those who dodged the draft and slithered off to Canada. But Vietnam taught us a lesson (or should have), we sacrificed over 58,500 men and eight women. not including the POWs (all men) our government abandoned there.
Obviously the lesson wasn’t very well learned. In Iraq and Afghanistan we sacrificed thousands more, 97-98 percent of them men.
It has been my observation over the last 35 years that the United States Navy has become little more than a giant encounter group with the advantage going to women and minorities (I cannot speak for the other branches of the military).
And, I have experienced discrimination myself in just the past 15 years.
Given these present circumstances, if either of my sons, any of my three grandsons, or any of my 10 great-grandsons are drafted in time of war, I’ll happily drive them to Canada.
David L. Snell (USN-Retired) — Franklin, N.C.