No tax increase? NC bond history proves otherwise.
On Connect.NC.gov, bond proponents begin their pitch with the words, “It’s been 15 years since the last general obligation bond was authorized to upgrade our state’s infrastructure…” The site goes on to proclaim that “no tax increases are necessary to finance the bond.”
A look back at a 2002 “hindsight and foresight” analysis from the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy shows us that the “no tax increase” claim didn’t hold up in practice the last time:
“The campaign for the higher education bonds in 2000 told North Carolina voters that the bonds were the best way to handle the University of North Carolina system’s deteriorating facilities and its pressing needs for new buildings to accommodate an expected surge in enrollment. Bond supporters were adamant and explicit in promising voters that the bonds wouldn’t raise their taxes. Now two years after passage, taxes have already risen and the deepening state budget crisis threatens to see them increase again, UNC is favoring new construction over supposedly critical repairs, there has been no sign of a massive surge in enrollment, and UNC is unnecessarily and openly pursuing contracting procedures that are possibly illegal and likely more costly. A moratorium on the bond sales, allowed by the legislation approving the bonds, appears to be the most responsible way to navigate the state’s fiscal crisis and UNC’s crisis of credibility with N.C. voters.”
Talk about deju vu! The publication further states…
“Finally, it is worthwhile to remember that a key selling point of the bond proposal to the voters in 2000 was the promise “It won’t raise your taxes.” Its approval, however, led to new budgetary obligations that helped to drive the budget into deficit and pave the way for the tax increases enacted in 2001. That promise was irresponsible and deceptive. A moratorium will not get rid of those tax increases, but it would at least make further increases less likely.”
The truth is, the “no new taxes” claim from “Connect NC” amounts to an empty campaign promise. There is no provision anywhere that binds bond proponents to these fantastic claims that they are making today, and in fact history demonstrates that this very promise is quickly broken upon bond passage.