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N.C. Opinions: Winston-Salem

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It’s time to repair N.C.’s broken infrastructure

From an editorial Friday in the Winston-Salem Journal:

During his successful campaign, Gov. Pat McCrory repeatedly referred to “our broken government.” North Carolinians could not be faulted if they assumed that McCrory was talking about broken government programs, bloated staff levels and employee inefficiency.

Turns out he was talking about leaking roofs, slow-running computers and potholes.

McCrory has a reputation for practicality. He can wax philosophical but he also worries about the loose floor tiles in state buildings. That’s a good sign.

In his first weeks in office, McCrory has repeatedly discussed broken state infrastructure. His first concern has been the outdated information technology scattered throughout state government. He notes that old computers reek of inefficiency, driving up government costs. But he’s also addressed roads, water and sewer, and communications technology.

A recent fire in the state’s Administration Building, near the Legislative Building, gave McCrory a peg to discuss the larger infrastructure problem state government faces. Turns out that the 46-year-old building is not adequately ventilated for its many computers.

North Carolina has reached this state of disrepair through willful negligence. While legislators have provided a few bursts of extra repair money, they have also cut it when the budget needs tightening.

State computer systems are also woefully outdated, to the point where millions have been spent to keep several old systems running while contractors struggle to finish long-delayed and expensive replacement systems, the Medicaid computers being the worst such case.

Former Gov. Jim Hunt warned about inadequate maintenance in the late 1970s, and all of his successors have done the same. Now McCrory joins them, arguing for a 25-year infrastructure plan.

But his initiative will cost big money at a time when his Republican colleagues want to cut state spending.

McCrory cannot allow himself to be deterred. North Carolina must protect its infrastructure investment.

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