ATLANTA - The North Carolina Legislature finally ended its 1992 session with a $118.8 million capital budget for fiscal 1993, but it failed to authorize $398 million of proposed general obligation bonds for colleges.
The session concluded Saturday after a three-week tug of war over the proposed bonding program.
"We were very pleased to get our capital budget together to be able to move forward on some much-needed building projects," Senate President Pro Tem Henson P. Barnes, DGoldsboro, said yesterday. "As for the school bonds, we will look at them again when the Legislature comes into session next year."
Earlier this month, the state Senate passed legislation authorizing a total of $398 million of new general obligation debt: $271 million for the state's university system and $127 million for community colleges. But state representative objected to the bond bill, saying the Legislature must first complete a comprehensive study of all state building before approving the bonds, Sen. Barnes said.
Representatives also resisted the borrowing because it lacks a specific funding source outside the state's general fund to repay debt service, according to Mr. Barnes. Many of these lawmakers had counted on passage of a proposed state lottery to provide the moneys, but the lottery idea fizzled.
The senators' insistence that the House vote on the bond measure and representatives insistence for a study proposal led to a deadlock. The stalemate was broken after C.D. Spangler, the president of the University of North Carolina and and the borrowing's chief proponent, asked lawmakers on Thursday to hold off considering the bonds until next year's legislative session, Sen. Barnes said.
With the impasse on the bonds surmounted, the two chambers quickly worked out for final differences on a capital budget, which is funded by the previous fiscal year-end cash surplus. For fiscal 1992, which ended June 30, the surplus totaled $160 million. This will be used to provide $118.8 million for capital projects and $40 million to replenish the state's depleted general fund reserve, according to Dave Crotts, senior analyst and economist for the Legislative Fiscal Office.
The remaining $1.2 million of the $160 million will help fund the state's $8.3 billion operating budget, which was passed on July 8, Mr. Crotts said.
Projects included in the capital budget include: $17 million for the repair of the state and university buildings, $9.8 million for a new school of social work at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and $5.8 million for the expansion of a zoo in Asheboro, according to legislative aides.
Lawmakers also ended the session without authorizing issuance of $87.5 million of prison construction bonds already approved by voters. Authorization is expected after the legislature meets in January, Sen. Barnes said.