@NCCapitol

State workers offer budget savings ideas

Posted February 15, 2011

— The group that represents many North Carolina state employees on Tuesday rolled out a series of ideas from its members about how to close the state budget gap.

The State Employees Association of North Carolina said its ideas would save the state more than $10 billion, or almost four times the projected $2.7 billion deficit for the fiscal year that starts in July.

Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue and Republican lawmakers have said state employee layoffs are likely to cut spending and balance the budget, but SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope offered alternatives like expanding the tax base and eliminating corporate tax loopholes.

"Don't make public employees bear the entire burden," Cope said. "Let's share sacrifice and make sure companies pay their fair share."

National companies, for example, are allowed to spread their profits among all 50 states, so they aren't paying taxes in North Carolina on all the revenue generated in the state, he said. Many firms also get state tax breaks for filing their annual returns on time or by locating operations in the state, he said.

"Why should our government pick and choose which companies, which corporations will win and which will be losers?" he said.

State lawmakers last week approved legislation that would cut current funding to several state economic development funds, but Cope said they should go further and return all of the money to the state budget to help with the deficit.

State workers offer budget savings ideas State workers offer budget savings ideas

Perdue is expected to announce he budget proposal later this week, but Cope suggested Perdue plans to consolidate state agencies to reduce spending are mostly "political rhetoric for an election that's two years away."

Some workers said Tuesday that they worry about the competition between Perdue and the new Republican majority in the General Assembly to see who can cut the most form the budget.

"I think everybody's on edge all the way around just because the budget has to be cut and we're not knowledgeable where that's going to take place," Carol Hewitt said.

Many state workers said they believe Perdue inherited a tough situation that now requires tough decisions.

"It's not something that's going to happen overnight. It's going to take time, but you have to look at different ways to approach it," Eva Higgins said.

State workers have suggested money-saving ideas like instituting four-day, 10-hour workweeks for state agencies, raising North Carolina's cigarette tax so it's on par with most other states, keeping a temporary one-cent sales tax in place for now, taxing franchised companies and limited liability companies and standardizing state health care.

SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope Web only: State employees group proposes budget cuts

The state offers physicians, pharmacists and hospitals different reimbursement rates to treat state workers, state prison inmates, Medicaid recipients and people in the state's high-risk insurance pool, Cope said. If rates were standardized across all four systems, he said, the state would save billions of dollars and improve efficiency.

State lawmakers also shouldn't be allowed to participate in state-funded health care since they are part-time workers, Cope said. That would save the state about $723,000 a year, he said.

"We're trying to bring North Carolina out of this economic crisis that we face, and in order to do that, you shouldn't add anybody – I don't care who they are or where they work – no one should be added to the unemployment line," he said.

Lawmakers said, however, that layoffs are inevitable. State workers who keep their jobs also should expect pay cuts, they said.

"We'll conserve the jobs best we can, but we're going to have to reduce salaries because that's what private business does. That's the nature of it," said Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson.

247 Comments

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  • aetius476 Feb 17, 9:46 a.m.

    "It's a lie that "illegals" don't pay taxes - including income tax. If they are being paid under the table with cash, then the employer is breaking the law. Both are then criminals.- 2thec"

    AND if the employer pays these illegals "above the table" and reports wage information using fraudulent SS#, they are criminals as well. In either case, the law is being broken. Someone in the country illegally cannot be paid wages in a manner that conforms to current federal laws. But you do not want the laws of this country enforced. We are all paying for this lack of integrity in law enforcement and governmental failure to perform constitutional duty.

  • mys1983 Feb 17, 8:57 a.m.

    @ Pulstar40-I agree with you. I am a state employee and I make less than 30,000 a year after taxed I bring home less than 1500, so having a 10% pay cut would be painful...State employees have families and work just like everyone else so why do people act like we get some extra special privileges, maybe some higher ups do, but for us regular folks we are struggling too..at least i am

  • mulligan013 Feb 16, 3:38 p.m.

    Maybe Perdue can start by getting rid of the job she "created" for Etheridge after he lost the election.

  • whatelseisnew Feb 16, 2:02 p.m.

    "Everyone is hurting except the filthy rich."

    Wrong, I am not FILTHY rich and I am not hurting. However, continuing to pile taxes on my back to protect Government workers does hurt me. Time for the Government to do the right thing and reduce its size significantly.

  • whatelseisnew Feb 16, 2:00 p.m.

    Whatever of these ideas can be used to save money great. Use those savings to get the State out of debt. However, many State employees are to lose their jobs, double that number.

  • nativeMTN Feb 16, 1:33 p.m.

    Everyone is hurting except the filthy rich. All I see on here are people attacking people over things that they should come together on, not divide over. State employees and private employees all have skin in the game. By fighting with one another, you make the powers that be even more happy, that way nobody sees what else is going on.

  • nchardee Feb 16, 10:55 a.m.

    Will they listen ,Most should be done. Hey while we are at it lets eliminate per diem for the "lawmakers".

  • avidreader Feb 15, 7:40 p.m.

    I am a state employee and I didn't get to day off to march!!

    avidreader

    no but you on here wasting taxpayers dollars when u should be working.WASTEFUL SPENDING AT ITS FINEST

    As if it's any of your business, I was off today.

  • teacher2X4 Feb 15, 7:37 p.m.

    How about looking at other ways to cut spending instead of always looking at State employees to shoulder the burden of a balanced budget. God forbid you would have to get your S together and run the State the way one would run a business.
    Mentioned in the article was the presumption that employee salaries would have to be cut across the board to solidify this balancing act. What about the rising costs in every other aspect of our daily life. I'm sure my power company would understand if I tell them that I'm now making slightly less because "it's happening everywhere", so they should just accept less for my electric bill. I'm sure they would understand. AT SOME POINT YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE TOUGH DECISIONS AND CUT INEFFECTIVE PROGRAMS, NOT JUST EXPECT OTHERS TO MAKE THE SACRIFICE. You will in effect drive away quality teachers. NC is already in the bottom 3rd in teacher salary. I have an idea, lets take some money away. That will make employees feel valued.

  • avidreader Feb 15, 7:32 p.m.

    Illegals may have a little tax with held from their check, but I guarantee you when it's time to file they claim the EIC and get back thousands of dollars they never paid in - dollars my husband and I paid returned to them. End the EIC too.

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