Budget

Lawmakers in the state House have tentatively approved a 19 billion dollar budget that makes deep cuts to education and health care. 

 Legislators debated the Republican penned budget for nearly ten hours yesterday. Republican representative Mitch Gillespie of Marion told colleagues it's the most responsible budget that could be put together in a slow economy. 

Republican and Democratic leaders are playing hard-ball with the state budget.  And extended unemployment benefits seem to be the latest pawn.

Republicans are tying additional unemployment benefits for 37-thousand people to a provision that would have state government operate at lower funding levels if a budget is not approved by June 30th.  Governor Bev Perdue calls the legislation “extortion.”  House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Thom Tillis:  "Ideally what she’ll do is take seriously our budget proposal which will come to her the first week of June and sign it."

Lawmakers at the General Assembly have begun rolling out suggested budget cuts. It's part of the process of putting together the state's spending plan for the next two years. But with an estimated shortfall of about two billion dollars, cobbling together a budget this year is more painful than usual. That's especially true in the area of education, which takes up 60 percent of the state's budget.

This morning Democratic Representative Marian McLawhorn of Grifton was sitting in her office, reading through two official-looking packets that are already a little dog eared.

The North Carolina House has proposed budget cuts that include more than $170 million from public safety agencies. Part of that spending plan would eliminate nearly 400 jobs from the court system. Officials say services like drug courts and family courts would have to make significant cutbacks. John Smith is the director of the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

John Smith: "We were prepared to reduce our positions by as many as 200 positions and felt that we could continue to provide the services. This will be double that."

Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr have joined several lawmakers who want the federal government to adopt a budget process similar to North Carolina's. Hagan and Burr have co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that would require Congress to write budgets every two years rather than annually. Lawmakers face a government shutdown if they don't agree on a spending plan before this weekend.

State lawmakers tried to override two measures the governor has already vetoed during this legislative session.

North Carolina is facing one of the largest potential budget shortfalls in its history. Right now it amounts to 2.4 billion dollars, but that number could change. Two years ago, the Democratic-controlled legislature enacted temporary tax increases- including a one cent sales tax increase- to help balance the state budget. But Republican leaders who’re now in control say they don’t need the tax increase this time.

Governor Bev Perdue released her proposed budget in Raleigh earlier today. The $19.9 billion dollar plan would protect existing teacher and teacher assistant jobs, but it would eliminate about ten thousand other state jobs through cuts and through the reorganization of state agencies.

The 2011-2012 legislative session begins today.

GOP Seeks Current-Year Cuts

Dec 16, 2010
Thom Tillis
NC General Assembly

The state legislature isn’t back in session till January. But incoming Republican leaders are asking Governor Bev Perdue to start cutting spending now.

At a special budget meeting Wednesday, leaders of state agencies painted a grim fiscal picture, projecting that next year’s revenue will fall around $3.7 billion short.  That means lawmakers will either have to raise revenue or cut spending by about 20%.

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