State News

Easley: Budget pleas 'falling on deaf ears'

Posted June 29, 2008

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— Gov. Mike Easley stepped up the pressure – and rhetoric – on state lawmakers Sunday, saying his message to balance the budget appears to be "falling on deaf ears" in the General Assembly.

Easley's staff met with House and Senate budget leaders Sunday as lawmakers returned to negotiations on the $21 billion spending plan. Easley, a Democrat negotiating his final budget as North Carolina's chief executive, opposes some of the tax relief measures that lawmakers have agreed to, including an expansion of the earned income tax credit for the working poor and the elimination of the state's gift tax, which favors wealthier citizens.

Those two plans, brokered in budget negotiations between top Democrats last week, would cost some $31 million in lost revenue in the coming year.

Top budget negotiators had made little progress by late Sunday, a spokesman for House Speaker Joe Hackney said. The two chambers were focused on resolving their own disagreements before considering Easley's concerns.

"They're working to get an agreement between the two chambers, and they'll see where they're at," Holmes said.

"Well, part of the problem is there is so many people up here. People say, ‘Why can’t you make some of these decisions more quickly?’ I say, ‘If you have a family of four, how long does it take for you to decide where you are going to dinner or where you are going on vacation, or if and when?'” said Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, the Senate's chief budget-writer. "So these are people who have all been elected from their districts. They all deserve to be heard. They all have good ideas about how to run a government and a lot if this is debate and compromise. It's something everybody has to do."

Teachers are among the top casualties of the budget negotiations and tax relief, Easley said, arguing that lawmakers want to give beginning teachers an annual pay increase of $470 while other state employees would get $1,100 or more.

"Teachers get shafted in this budget," Easley said in a statement. "This comes in a year when the legislature had promised to take teachers to the national average in pay and we have a significant teacher shortage that is projected to grow dramatically. This is mind boggling."

The governor has warned that tax collections for the coming fiscal year will probably be about $70 million less than projected. He said leaders need to find sensible ways to fill the budget gap.

"I want to be clear - the budget must be balanced and have the right priorities for me to sign it," Easley said.

"We're trying to reach an agreement," said Rep. Alma Adams, D-Guilford.

There are other options to make up the difference, such as putting less money in reserve funds or reducing agency spending.

Though the new fiscal year begins Tuesday, a final bill likely won't get to Easley's desk by then. Government operations would continue because the budget only adjusts the second year of a two-year budget passed last summer.


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  • bluewind Jun 30, 2008

    Easley's arrogance is only surpassed by his elitist attitude...I'm with RetGr6. Our pleas to him have fallen on deaf ears since he has been in office. What a crook!!!!

  • fbcoachgeorge Jun 30, 2008

    In light Easley's trip to Italy, he went there to get business for our state. I can see a new Italian business opening in January.....MIKEY'S PIZZA PALACE. HOME OF THE PORK PIZZA!!!

  • whatusay Jun 30, 2008

    Most budgets are balanced by cutting expenses so you spend only what you have. Why not get rid of the 3500 credit cards county employees have? Why not cut government employee base? I am sure there are lots and lots of things that can be eliminated all together. I am not sure we have the intellect in Raleigh to see through the smoke and mirrors to get the job done though.

  • ncguy Jun 30, 2008

    Easy E- No one respects you or your over spending party.
    Turn in your tax payer American express and start spending your own money.

  • skidkid269 Jun 30, 2008

    That's a good politician. He claims he wants to balance the budget. It sounds noble...until you read that he wants to eliminate the tax credits, not reduce spending! I agree that all state employees need raises. (I actually think they should get merit increases, not "you've been here 5 years, here's a payraise".) Reduce the spending on stupid stuff and let me keep what little of my money I have.

  • spartanpirate Jun 30, 2008

    If the governor pays the state back for all the unnecessary expenses that he has racked up over the last 7.5 years then maybe all state employees, including teachers, could get at least a 5% raise. Using State resources to go to his beach home or any place else that is not on official state business should be banned and Easley should pay it back. State workers can't use State resources to go anywhere that they want. I am disgusted with Easley and all his cronies. N&O how about investigating all his trips he has taken since going into office. That ought to be a wonderful several issue article. Please post his expenses as given to the media for the Italy trip.
    STATE WORKERS AND TEACHERS NEED A PAY RAISE THAT WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Prices have risen at unbelievable speed and not our paychecks.

  • NCTeacher Jun 30, 2008

    As much as I think teachers deserve a raise- I think everybody needs a raise right now. We are all having to buy the same high dollar groceries and gas- we all need more money to live on.

  • ifcdirector Jun 30, 2008

    The arrogance and pompous nature of this man is beyond all rational comprehension even taking into account that he is a traitor to his office and the citizens of this state. Go beg the illegal aliens you support for money or better yet stop abusing the taxpayer owned jet and helicopter as your own personal taxi to your beach house and stop taking taxpayer funded junkets to Italy and France on a whim. Unreal that there are actual adult human beings who would still vote for this man or most of his party come election time.

  • lmirage3 Jun 30, 2008

    Easley continues to give the shaft to rank and file state employees. Now he wants the legislature to forgo the 2.75% or $1,100 raise (whichever is greater) for 3% for everyone. Well, that works out just dandy for people who make over $36,500/per year. But for those that make less than that will get a lower raise. A large number of state employees do indeed make less than $36,500/year. These individuals will really get the shaft!!!!

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jun 30, 2008

    This shows he was not much of a governor. Be glad when he is not longer sitting in office.