RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley continues to work with lawmakers and state agencies looking for ways to solve the state's budget woes.
While the budget problems are not getting any better, today the governor said he should know by the end of April how much the budget cuts will have to be. Some lawmakers have said the budget cuts may be as high as 11 percent.
"We certainly don't feel like we are not going to have to go as high as 11 percent, but I want to have those already on the table in the event the economy worsens," he said.
Easley and other state lawmakers believe cuts of 11 percent may be on the high side, but they may be necessary.
"Well, I think what you see is they go from 7 percent to 8 percent to 9, 10, 11 percent," he said. "When you get past eight percent, you start seeing some difficult choices. That's mostly what you're going to see printed and talked about.
"Right now, we do not know where we are going to have to go, how deep we are going to cut until we really see the numbers at the end of April," he said.
Education will be the hardest hit statewide, no matter what the numbers show. Projected cuts of close to $700 million are already on the table, which troubles Easley since he will be looking to state lawmakers for cooperation.
"When you get into an extra $2 billion that we have to deal with in the short session, it's probably going to have some effect on services, and we recognize that," he said. "The main thing we want to do right now is protect the classroom."
Lawmakers go back to work May 28, the day the short session begins.