For Schools, Cooper Favors Big Government Debt Over Sensible Pay-As-You-Go Policies

RALEIGH – A bill titled ‘Build North Carolina’s Future,’ which would increase the annual revenue allocation for school infrastructure needs, sponsored by Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) was panned Tuesday by Gov. Roy Cooper. Why? Because the fiscally relatively responsible pay-as-you-go proposal stands to sink the chances of the nearly $2 billion bond Cooper (and some N.C. House Republicans) wants to use for school infrastructure.

You see, Cooper is a one-way valve, politically speaking, in that his only direction is that of bigger government and higher spending. The bond proposal, in addition to adding nearly $2 billion in debt to the Old North State’s books, would also rack up another $1 billion+ in interest payments.

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Cooper complains of ‘skimming’ funds from other priorities

The capital improvement needs for North Carolina schools, according to a Statewide Facility Needs Survey, stands at over $8 billion. While it is disappointing that politicians of all stripes default to the state doing more in an area historically handled by local municipalities, the Senate bill is at least free of billions in debt and massive cumulative interest payments.

Senate Bill 5 would inject about $2 billion into such school infrastructure needs via increasing the percentage of General Funds allocated to an existing Capital and Infrastructure fund. Those funds would be split three ways between local schools, community colleges, and the university system. The plan makes budgeting for the state to fund school needs a lot more straight forward, even if it, too, raises state spending levels and centralizes control.

Why is that the areas where the government has the most involvement (education, healthcare) always seem to have the most unmet needs and untenable costs? That’s a rhetorical question of course, because we know which systems are best at allocating resources to meet the highest priority needs. That ‘system’ doesn’t reside on Blount Street, or Jones Street; it only exists on Main Street.

 

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