Washington — Gov. Beverly Perdue on Wednesday urged North Carolina's congressional delegation and members of President-elect Barack Obama's incoming administration to earmark funds for the state in a proposed national stimulus package.
In meetings with Obama's transition team, U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan and the state's 13 U.S. House members, Perdue outlined North Carolina's needs and said she and lawmakers would have to make "draconian cuts" to the state budget without federal help.
Fiscal analysts are projecting a $2 billion deficit in the state budget, and Perdue signed an executive order Tuesday directing officials to give her cost-cutting options by the end of the week.
Money from the stimulus package could help fill that hole in the budget, she said, calling such aid a present to her on her 62nd birthday.
"I can find $1 billion. I found it (Tuesday) in two hours," she said. "I can tell you pretty quickly where I'm going to go first to find $1 billion of our shortfall. I can't find another $1 billion."
Perdue also released a list of the state's infrastructure priorities, saying North Carolina could put $6 billion to work on highway, airport and other transportation projects and another $3.5 billion for construction projects like prisons and university buildings. Such projects would create thousands of jobs, she said.
"The economic situation we're in is going to require a stimulus that requires the broadest number of taxpayer citizens possible, and I'm pleased the governor's list does that," Seventh District Congressman Mike McIntyre said.
Perdue said Obama's representatives inspired more confidence about prospects for federal help because some members of the congressional delegation expressed skepticism about the stimulus package. She declined to provide names.
"I certainly don't feel as good about where we are here as to where we are with the Obama team," she said after meeting with the House delegation. "We were there almost an hour where we worked in detail on North Carolina's positions and why we need two pots of assistance."
Hagan, who previously worked with Perdue as a state senator, said she would do what she could to help the governor.
"We have worked so closely together for years, and we'll continue working hard," Hagan said.
Perdue also has said she would like Congress to increase the federal government's Medicaid share, extend food stamp benefits and provide training for displaced workers.
Wake County homebuilders also went to Washington Wednesday to speak with lawmakers. They said they don't want a bailout, but instead want tax credits and other incentives to encourage people to buy houses.