Local News

Negotiators Hope To Hammer Out Plan For State Budget

Posted August 14, 2002

— The Senate rejected Wednesday a state budget passed by the state House. The power of shaping a final state budget to suit both the House and Senate now rests with a team of negotiators.

Sen. Tony Rand, D-Fayetteville, said it is going to be like putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

"There are significant differences. They spent more money than we did and we'll have to look at all of that -- taking some of the money from the hurricane stuff. We've got to adjust all that and make sure we aren't really doing any damage to anybody," he said.

Both House and Senate plans funded the pay step for school teachers. Neither house included a pay raise for state employees. The House plan added a bonus of two weeks of paid vacation and early retirement.

Senate leader Marc Basnight agrees the House plan was a morale booster.

"Oh, it certainly does. We are going to look at every item in that budget and try to help the state employees and do what's right by the people of this state," he said.

"Obviously, we need to do what we can to help our employees, then you are looking at a lot of employees that are being riffed and they change jobs. It's a very difficult time and so we need to be as concerned and caring as we can be under the limitations under which we operate," Rand said.

Budget negotiators hope to have a final budget agreement within 2 weeks.

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