Local Politics

Perdue: Governing not popularity contest

Posted December 22, 2009

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— Gov. Beverly Perdue readily acknowledged Tuesday that she made some unpopular decisions during her first year in office, but she said moving the state forward is more important to her than being popular.

During a 45-minute discussion with reporters, Perdue addressed moves she made to deal with the record $4.6 billion state deficit, such as furloughs for state workers, cuts to services and increases to the state sales tax rate and on alcohol and cigarettes. As the economy spiraled down last spring and the deficit ballooned, she said, every decision she made was focused on maintaining the state's fiscal integrity.

Gov. Beverly Perdue 2009 'hardest year' for Perdue

"(For) two months, I'd sit up at night and figure out how to pay the bills. There were times that we were so close to the edge," she said. "I didn't go out and steal every pot of money I could find in North Carolina or furlough teachers and state employees because I thought it was cute to do. I did it because I wanted to pay the bills."

With the state unemployment rate at almost 11 percent, Perdue's approval ratings are near record lows. Yet, she said she believes her decisions have positioned North Carolina to grow in the future. She said North Carolina's recent ranking by a magazine as the No. 1 state for business validates many of her decisions.

"I can't give myself a grade," she said. "We've come through just a really hard year – a hard, challenging year – not just for me, but for the people of North Carolina. I believe we've fundamentally restructured fiscally (so) that we can deal with whatever hand we're dealt in the next three years."

The state faces a budget shortfall of $400 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year because of continued weak tax collections, but she said that can be handled without much effort because she ordered state agencies in August to hold back 5 percent of their annual appropriations.

The governor said she has concerns about the long-term economic future, questioning whether the state will get a cut of the growing online retail market and whether the federal government will leave states with unfunded mandates.

Gov. Beverly Perdue Governor focused on building for future

"I see a glimmer of recovery. I don't say that with any kind of false data. I say it because I see it," she said.

Still, she said she remains focused on improving North Carolina's public schools, creating jobs, boosting small businesses and making state government more efficient and transparent in the coming year.

"Innovation and change is much harder than anyone believed it would be," she said, adding that she intends to keep pushing for tougher ethics for state officials and greater accessibility of state contracts.

Perdue said she plans to unveil an educational initiative in 2010 known as Ready, Set, Go, which she first thought of during an October business-recruiting trip to China and Japan.

"I came back from China changed in an odd kind of way," she said, noting she now has a greater sense of urgency to create more job-training opportunities and to improve North Carolina's dropout rate.

"For three more years, I'm going to be governor – maybe seven – and I'm going to continue to push this state forward," she said.

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  • skypilot-not Dec 23, 2009

    "For three more years, I'm going to be governor – maybe seven – "

    You can add delusional to the list as well.....

  • blueridgerunner Dec 23, 2009

    "...but she said moving the state forward is more important to her than being popular." Liberals believe they know what's best for everyone, they are far too intellectually smart to let common people decide their own wants and needs.

  • jtPER Dec 23, 2009

    Beverly Purdue is a joke.

  • timothycapwell Dec 23, 2009

    No wonder she didn't participate in those debates with Dr. Munger and Pat McCrory.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 23, 2009

    "status quo" Bev needs to remember this when she doesn't get re-elected for making unpopular decisions that most of the people in North Carolina are against.

  • pbjbeach Dec 23, 2009

    The citizens of this state should be asking themselves the question of why does this governor (lol) just absoultly refuses to make the big decesions that would effect big cut to the spending habits of every state government agency such as not allowing for the expenditure of state funds for the new yearly purchases of brand new state vehicles every year why not jkust forgo these costly purchases for a year or to an bank the funds that would have been used for those purchases for every state agency in this state an that would probably by it's self close the current budgetary gap in spending for state government. she refuses to make the hard choices simply becasue she is beholding to to many lobbyist groups that might an could impact some business enity in this state . i personaly beleive that she has sold the ncdot to the republican party for them to run it simply based on the contracting that takes place within the ncdot thank you

  • Milkman Dec 23, 2009

    @thought - this is absolutely one of the issues that we're just not dealing with, and Bev is so tuned into education, but our children can't get a good education anymore because our teachers teach to the lowest common denominator, which is the children with a language barrier, which are, more often than not, illegals. The legal immigrants typically learn the language and teach it to their children.

    As others have mentioned, Bev was all on top of doing across the board cuts to state government, but what if she went to each department head and said here's a bonus structure for you to do your mission with less money. Layoffs, fewer state vehicles purchased, not giving your cousin such a lucrative contract. We'd save some money!

  • thought Dec 23, 2009

    Wow- there is a lot of angry people, and there should be. I agree with the poster that every state is having problems right now- that does not mean I agree with Bev. Personally, there are ways to help - and the big one is deport. I know that angers people but with unemployment so high... there is no reason to hire an illegal. They claim they are only doing jobs we won't. That is a lie. They say they are here to help their families- Look, I see the attitude and if I was in someone else's country I'd be more respectful and less rude. Bev needs to get on this issue as well as other states. It will reduce money! There are ways to cut, but no matter what someone isn't going to be happy. Bev listen to the people and help them. We are United States Citizens, North Carolina Citizens. Help get jobs for us! Help reduce medical costs and forgien language costs.
    OK, let the slamming of me begin!

  • abbottfouroaks Dec 23, 2009

    Someone remind Gov. Perdue that McDonalds is still hiring and maybe, just maybe, that is where she should be governing, over the french fries, and grill.

  • Milkman Dec 23, 2009

    I'm actually impressed that she didn't blame anyone, not Easley or Bush or the opposition party, she took it all on herself.

    Good job, she went up a point or two for that from me.

    Our President could do well to stop his whining and blame game and start acting a little more like Harry Truman and saying the "buck stops here".

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