Local Politics

GOP warning of impending budget cuts alarms some

Posted November 4, 2010

— Top Republican lawmakers say their plans to balance the state budget next year solely through spending cuts will likely be painful for many people.

Fiscal analysts have projected a budget deficit of more than $3 billion, and Republican leaders in the General Assembly said after their election victories Tuesday that they want to reduce the budget to about $16 billion from the $19 billion spending plan passed in June.

House Minority Whip Thom Tillis, a potential candidate to become the next House speaker, said Wednesday that the cuts could lead to "legitimate, sad stories about people who may end up suffering."

Ellen Russell, director of advocacy and chapter support at The ARC of North Carolina, which serves people with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities, warned Thursday of the ripple effect from drastic state cuts.

"It is terrifying to us because there are 7,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the waiting list (for service) in this state now," Russell said. "There are (also) a lot of people employed in the field of services for people with mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services."

In addition to eliminating nonprofit positions, there is also concern that cuts could lead to widespread layoffs among state workers.

Dana Cope, executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, said there are areas in the state budget that can be cut, but state jobs is not one of them.

North Carolina flag, NC flag, state flag, N.C. flag GOP warning of impending budget cuts alarms some

"The folks who've been out of power who now assume power are going to have a good education in what it takes to run government," Cope said of the Republicans. "They will feel the wrath not only of public employees, but they're going to feel the wrath of taxpayers who have come to depend on those quality public services."

University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles even suggested that deep budget cuts could force the closure of one of the UNC system's 16 university campuses.

Staff at the campuses have been drafting budget scenarios for the UNC Board of Governors to give them options for cutting 5 to 10 percent of the system budget next year.

A 10 percent cut would be about $270 million, and Bowles said that would mean laying off about 1,800 faculty and staff members across the system.

Campuses would also have to increase class sizes and reduce the number of courses offered to handle the cuts, he said.

"Where it gets hard is if you have to go beyond that," he said. "Let's say we had a 20 to 30 percent cut. Then, you have to start looking at some real extremes. Are you better to really damage the entire quality across the board, or are you better off talking about closing down one campus?"

Bowles said such a move isn't being contemplated now, but it might be considered if proposed spending cuts become deeper.

The Board of Governors is expected to vote Friday on a budget proposal to send to lawmakers.

285 Comments

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  • camron28551 Nov 10, 2:48 p.m.

    Every state department has been cutting its budget tremendously since 2008, particularly DHHS and Dept. of Correction. Most agencies are surviving on the bare minimum now. Have you been to the DMV lately; you wait hours. I know it sounds good, but I promise there is a lot less waste than people are aware of.

  • Proud Black Constitutionalist Nov 10, 2:07 p.m.

    Lets start with government entitlements, you know like welfare, free school lunches, food stamps, federal housing, school buses, etc., etc., etc.

  • rc4nc Nov 10, 2:06 p.m.

    Government is not the answer, they're usually the root of the problems we have.

  • rc4nc Nov 10, 1:59 p.m.

    The nation and the state has been living beyond it's means for quite some time, yes there will be suffering...

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  • Madonna Nov 5, 6:19 p.m.

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  • North Carolina Home Nov 5, 5:06 p.m.

    OK, MakoII...I understand

    I think we are both on the same page on a lot of these points with some minor differences that we could use the rest of the GOLO day debating to no avail since the Legislature and the Gov. have got to do the heavy lifting.

    There are going to be hard decisions to make and it's inevitable that there will be unhappy people. I have a sense that the Gov. is privately glad to have the new Legislature in town so they can be the bad guys that did what obviously has to be done.

  • MakoII Nov 5, 4:26 p.m.

    North Carolina Home,

    My point was that the people you vote for do these things and you still vote for the same people (you plural) so WHO is at fault? The legislator or the voter who gives support regardless of the performance?

    Ok, the current Budget is 19 Billion. The projections are for 16 Billion in receipts.

    That's a 3 Billion short fall. Divide 3 by 19 and you get 15.8%

    So that's what you'd have to cut by.

    Some state agencies have already been squeezed by their current 15% cuts, so another 16% would mean job cuts. Many jobs are lapsed since there are a LOT of retirees.

    The BEST way, since state employees have a high aged population is to offer early retirement and cut those empty positions.

    That means most agencies will only have to come up with less percentage cuts on top of vacated positions.

  • MakoII Nov 5, 4:19 p.m.

    BubbaDukeforPresident,

    Business uses state services more than people do. Making 2 of the 4 days on weekends hurts them. The best would be 4 days a week, 10 hours.

    Except that most employees are teachers!

    Also, legislators routinely give double digit raises to their staff and it's not reported on.

    Post their staff increases WRAL! Hold them accountable!

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