Water woes

The Winston-Salem Journal online has this sobering story about the water needs in rural North Carolina.

The General Assembly should approve a $1 billion bond referendum this year to help the state's poorest regions upgrade their aging water and sewer systems, a state policy center said Thursday.

The money will help the state catch up on an estimated $6.85 billion in projected statewide repairs and improvements needed over the next five years, officials of the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center said. Voters would have to approve the bonds in a statewide election that could come as early as November.

The two-year "Water 2030" report also recommends that the Legislature create a permanent revenue source to pay for water, sewer and stormwater runoff system needs. The need is acute in small towns and rural areas: they have a hard time tapping into repair funds because of their small tax bases and lack of access to bond markets. Without well-run systems, they also have a tougher time attracting new industry to help increase tax dollars.

Several legislators at the conference said they supported the bond package and the establishment of a water and sewer fund, though they acknowledged it may be challenging to get by their colleagues and voters.

"Politically, I can't think of any thing that's more difficult," said Ellis Hankins of the North Carolina League of Municipalities.

That last quote says it all. Wingers have poisoned the well when it comes to public policy that takes care of those who need help. First you'll hear about all the tax and spend libruls who want to raise revenues on the backs of hard workin' people. Then you'll hear a call for turning water over to the big bidness and letting the free market worry about the problem. The fact is, "the problem" could be handled for less than the cost of one sorry month in Iraq.