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Easley Signs $20 Billion State Spending Plan

Posted July 31, 2007

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— With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Mike Easley approved a new budget Tuesday, which includes a $1 billion increase in education spending.

At the budget-signing ceremony, Easley focused on how the new $20 billion spending plan will benefit North Carolina's education system.

“We have put reality behind the vision of an affordable, debt-free education from pre-kindergarten to an undergraduate degree at a state university. Out of this budget, North Carolina emerges a leader in education on the national scene," Easley said. "History will note the courage and foresight of those who did not just make easy promises, but did the hard work to keep those promises and stand up for the future of our state."

The Earn and Learn program, for example, will allow students to take community college courses while still in high school.

"Every child in every corner or every county in North Carolina, regardless of their economic status, can get a college education in North Carolina now," he said. "The best-skilled work force in the United States is going to be found within the borders of North Carolina."

Easley also talked about providing online access for all 405 high school campuses in the state in the coming years.

State lawmakers in both houses gave final approval to the spending plan on Monday. All state employees will receive a 4 percent raise, while teachers and judges will see their pay go up by 5 percent.

The plan makes permanent a temporary 0.25 percent sales tax increase adopted in 2001, raises the tax on cigarettes by 10 percent to fund cancer research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and gives counties the option to raise sales or land transfer taxes. It will help county governments by providing new tax options and Medicaid relief.

Easley said he was pleased the controversial transfer tax option was approved. He had previously chided lawmakers as being afraid of the real estate lobby, but he said he understood the pressure they faced.

"Anytime you have a special interest spending $1 million in efforts to scare off legislators, they have to fight back, and they're concerned," he said.

Some people in Wake County wanted more Medicaid money in the budget. But Easley said large counties can handle the rising cost of Medicaid, and he wanted the Medicaid concerns addressed in the budget to focus on the state's 85 rural counties.

"This budget expands local government options to deal with growth while relieving low-wealth and other counties of their costly Medicaid burden. It gives our state more weapons to compete successfully in the global economy and to provide a bright future for all our citizens," he said.

With the budget complete, lawmakers have to tackle several other issues, such as a renewable energy bill and a landfill moratorium, before the General Assembly wraps up later this week.

Lawmakers also hope to pass a bill that would make ethics hearings open to the public.

71 Comments

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  • elliemae Aug 2, 2007

    Does anyone know how much retirees will receive (percent). Thanks.

  • ladyblue Aug 1, 2007

    Get ready people. Again Easley has raided the transportation funds in the budget and moved them to the general fund. The medicaid has gone from 100 counties to 85 counties getting relief and Raleigh is not in it. Our bridges will be doing the same thing as that Bridge in Minnesota as we are not upgrading and repairing them. Readers digest had an article on this last year and 3 bridges in NC weren't in good repair, one of them being in Fayetteville. I forgot the others. I believe in education as well, but I don't believe that the state should pay for a college degree. At 18 a child is considered an adult and all other benefits stop for them. There are grants, loans, and scholarships for this. It's not fair that one family has to struggle to save and pay while some will just walk on through college at my taxes. My son had to go for 2 yr degree. Vincete Foxx should be kissing America but for all the goodies we give his folks and they send him their billions back to Mexico.

  • scal Aug 1, 2007

    Politicians are really good at pandering to people. They always cite rights illegals, women, children, education, health care as BIG issues, and in a way, who's going to vote against that.

    And then after they are in office guess who gets to pay for the mess? Maybe soon we'll get some vasoline with those tax increases.

  • gunnarbiker Aug 1, 2007

    With all the illegals living for free here and getting free health care, this REALLY ticks me off!

    Way to go Sleasely!

  • NoToIllegals Aug 1, 2007

    claudnc;

    There is much to be done regarding illegals. For one, deport those who commit crimes/felonies. Why use taxpayer money to defend them?

    Those employers who insist on hiring illegals should be penalized by the IRS and the state, starting immediately!

    Since they don't have to pay taxes why should we?

    Now respond with a sensible comment or two.

  • Tax Man Aug 1, 2007

    Guess it is time to consider moving out of NC - I see the future and it is nothing but more taxes, more crooks in the legislature and a governor who only knows how to tax & spend. Things have been getting better and with tax reductions we were seeing great improvement in the economy - now it will suffer again. I'll withhold judgment until after the elections, but I see the writing on the wall! I just returned from a vacation that included up the coast through VA, DC, DEL, NJ and MD - all of the gas prices were 15 - 20% less than ours! In NJ they even pump your gas, wash your windows and we only paid $2.60 for unleaded regular. We then flew to CA for a week and their gas is around $2.91 a gallon - in that big old expensive state! And sales taxes - we did not pay a penny on food on all of our trips - guess NC is one of the few states that taxes food. Plus most states seem to have a sales tax around 5%.

  • cjump Jul 31, 2007

    The people of NC have gotten what they deserve. They are DUMB enough to keep voting in tax and spend demoncrats then they can afford to pay the price. Unfortunately, the next governor regardless of party will pay for Sleasly's spending spree. He will either have to continue to raise taxes or face the crying of people for cutting services.

    Personally, cut the hell out of the next budget. Lower the income tax back to 4%. No local add-ons. No one exempt from taxes, ESPECIALLY the poor. They can afford to chip in a percentage of their income too, if they don't have an income, get a job or get into training. Give them 2 years to get off the state then cut them off, maybe they will move to a state that will allow them to continue to be lazy.

  • markdaman Jul 31, 2007

    Great job again this year!!! Lets raise everything as high as possible except state employees pay. 4% still does not make up for all those years of nothing. The cost of living skyrockets every year and pay just limps up. Why do I pay taxes for other people to get free health care and I have a $350 deductable and 20% after that? NC state gov sucks!!!!!

  • dragonslayer Jul 31, 2007

    Once again the people who work hard and pay TAXES are gonna take it on the chin , for the benefit of those too lazy to work ohh sorry that should have read "underprivileged " .Heck I would be underprivileged if I had a bunch of kids I cant pay for and quit BOTH of my jobs.

  • IdoNOTliveinDurham Jul 31, 2007

    It really blow my mind that they can tax a long time citizen who wants to build a new home(with no kids in school,retirement age) and they are taxed for more new schools. While there are many moving to North Carolina as others have said we must pay for the illegal immigrants to go to school, recieve free health care, drive without insurance, translate all menus and of course the Lowes, Homedepot announcement systems etc.

    But hey the lottery will save us all. I was not an opponent but can anyone point to an accounting statement showing where all of the proceeds have gone. Hey everyone thought Jim Black was straight and I am now convince that everyone in our government is getting paid off.

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