Local Politics

State Budget: More Money, More Needs

Posted May 14, 2007

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— The annual state budget has ballooned in recent years, jumping by $5 billion since 2003. Some lawmakers point to the budget growth as a sign that cutbacks are needed.

Lawmakers are working on a $20.3 billion budget for the coming year, a 38 percent increase from the $14.7 billion budget  lawmakers approved in 2003.

The state also increased its debt load by millions in recent years to pay for state building projects.

The budget growth far outstrips population growth. The state's population increased only 6 percent during the same period.

"We've spent 25 percent more money than we needed to keep up with population growth, plus inflation, over the last 10 years," said state Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake. "Something's wrong in the kitchen sounds like to me."

The kitchens of some neighboring states also appear to be cooking.

South Carolina's budget has grown 37 percent in the past five years, while its population has increased by 4.3 percent. In Georgia, the budget has increased 26 percent, and its population is up by 7.4 percent.

State Rep. Paul Luebke, who co-chairs the House Finance Committee, said salary increases for teachers and state employees account for the bulk of the budget increases in recent years.

"I would point out that 2003 was a terrible year for state employees and teachers. We weren't able to give any raise at all," said Luebke, D-Durham. "I don't think there's any North Carolinian out there who wouldn't want there to be automatic increases per extra child in the public schools."

Along with Medicaid costs, education -- from pre-kindergarten to college -- is the fastest-growing taxpayer burden.

Luebke pointed out that more than $300 million in the proposed house budget goes into the state's rainy day fund for emergencies.

About $300 million in the latest budget plan comes from increases to sales taxes and upper-income tax brackets that were supposed to be temporary. The Senate could still vote to phase them out.

"To be honest with the North Carolina voters, we need to do what we said we were going to do," Hunt said.

But special interests argue that the budget still doesn't provide enough money to meet important needs, such as transportation infrastructure and mental health services.

"If anything, we should have had more. The budget should have been bigger," Luebke said.

22 Comments

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  • casper May 15, 2007

    @ Mulvay8888 = thank you very much. That is crazy.. How does that not hurt anyone??

  • mulvay8888 May 15, 2007

    Casper - A new study finds North Carolina is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to educate illegal immigrants in the state.

    The study said the Tarheel state is now spending $210 million. A decade ago, it was only costing $10 million.

    The study was conducted by the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina.

    Reference: http://www.wsoctv.com/news/7536976/detail.html
    It also shows illegal immigrants accounted for 57 percent of the state's enrollment growth between 2000 and 2005.

  • roe May 15, 2007

    I was just commenting on this very thing with a fellow co worker. How dare they even state such a claim. For as long as I have been a state employee, I have YET to receive what I would even consider a fair raise!!!! For one thing they are getting quality employees for a low salary rate ANYHOW. Do they go to grocery store on a tight budget...no they don't. Do they juggle bills to make sure all get their equal portion.....I'm sure they don't. I am tired of these liars running for office and not considering everyone when they distribute back my money. Though I don't have a child attending schools now I did and I appreciate the teachers he had. I believe they do deserve a raise as well, but they are no more valuable than I am to my agency!

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy May 15, 2007

    WOW.....someone here actually thinks the problem is the CORPORATE WELFARE????? that's amazing! maybe MORE STATE employees, and less companies is the answer. or maybe we should ALL work for the government, and get rid of private companies....no, wait a minute, they've already tried that, it's called COMMUNISM!

  • cowboyinfv May 15, 2007

    I can't believe they had the nerve to say the budget increased due to teachers and state workers raises. What raise? Well said, EYESWIDESHUT

    Wonder what would happen if State Employee's went on strike for for a few weeks.

  • GWALLY May 15, 2007

    ....that's right.....tax us to death or till we got nothing to spend......!!!!!
    I know......the state should sell the excess bus garage inventory.....they will never miss it, they can't count anyway....or we could hire Jim Black as a financial consultant, he seems to be able to FIND MONEY everywhere !!!!!!!

  • Seeminglyopposed May 15, 2007

    I can't believe they had the nerve to say the budget increased due to teachers and state workers raises. What raises? The minimal amount that was given, they took back in insurance and medical cost. It didn't even pay the cost of living. And they use this as an excuse. Unless they are talking about the chosen few in State Government, for instance the politicians, because they can not be talking about the real working class.

  • LADY1 May 15, 2007

    All I can say is gas is going up, food, electric bill. everyone needs a raise!!!

  • Uncle Ruckus May 15, 2007

    Gov. "Tax Hike" Mike & his cronies are like a bunch of drug addicts. Except in this case, the drug of choice, is our money. Every year they want more and more, and yet, have absolutely nothing to show for what they are doing with it all.

    I know one why they can save a billion bucks over the next two years. With the internet/communications systems now in place, there is no reason at all to have centralized State offices. Move all those "State" jobs to other places in the State, especially where there is high unemployment and lower salaries.

  • Juliett May 15, 2007

    "Along with Medicaid costs, education -- from pre-kindergarten to college -- is the fastest-growing taxpayer burden."

    North Carolina is the only state that passes the medicaid burden along to the counties.

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