State News

State Senate rolls out $20B budget plan

Posted April 6, 2009

— The state Senate on Monday unveiled a budget plan that is $900 million less than what Gov. Beverly Perdue sought just three weeks ago.

Senate budget writers announced their spending proposal will be just over $20 billion, compared to nearly $21 billion in Perdue's plan. The difference largely is attributed to how the Senate accounts for some Medicaid money it's receiving through the federal stimulus package.

North Carolina flag, NC flag, state flag, N.C. flag Senate budget plan differs from governor's

Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, co-chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the plan would save $320 million annually by increasing the average size of public school classrooms by two students. Perdue is opposed to the idea.

"A lot of studies say the most important thing is we have a good teacher," Garrou said. "Look at neighboring states. They have more students in the classroom than we do."

The North Carolina Association of Educators reacted sharply to the proposal, saying larger class sizes could put North Carolina out of compliance with federal measures tied to the economic stimulus package.

"The consequences of the Senate's budget proposal will not only do lasting damage to student performance and learning, it could also cost this state billions in federal stimulus money," NCAE President Sheri Strickland said in a statement.

The budget would lay off state 711 workers and keep another 900 positions vacant, Garrou said. Perdue's plan called for eliminating 1,033 positions, some of which are vacant.

Under then Senate plan, education spending would be cut by 1.45 percent, public safety spending would drop by 7 percent and the Department of Health and Human Services budget would be cut by 6 percent.

University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles and North Carolina Community College System President Scott Ralls issued a joint statement in support of the Senate proposal, saying it provides needed support for worker training and job development.

But Bill Harrison, chairman of the State Board of Education and CEO of the Department of Public Instruction, said he has "major concerns" that the Senate budget "is the wrong direction for North Carolina."

Among other things, he said, it would cut 7 percent funding from public schools and DPI, eliminate 300 of 475 state-funded positions at DPI and could lead to the elimination of 6,200 teaching positions.

Senate budget writers said the plan would be balanced by finding another $580 million in revenues, but details haven't been finalized. Perdue called for increasing cigarette taxes by $1 per pack and alcohol taxes by 5 percent.

The Senate proposal would give individual agencies fewer mandates and more flexibility to reach the necessary budget cuts. Employee furloughs could be one option, although lawmakers would have to approve that move.

"Whether it's reducing overtime pay, using temp workers or (cutting) utility expenses," Garrou said, any reductions will be accepted.

Senators also proposed closing several prisons, but they said it wouldn't be as many as the seven facilities targeted in Perdue's budget plan.

"People have asked us during this time, like at home, to make significant cuts. We have done that," said Sen. A.B. Swindell, D-Nash co-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.


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  • vbradsher Apr 8, 2009

    The number of students in the classroom is a joke. I teach middle school and have at least 30 students in all classes. We are told to sign a waver each year to ignore the student cap which allows local boards to put as many students as they want in one classroom. I suspect other counties do the same.

  • quebholder Apr 7, 2009

    Why is it EVERY government at the state and fedral level ATTACK tobacco and alcohol as the ONLY choice for tax increases? Tobacco increased 3 weeks ago. Federal at $6.10 a carton and now NC wants another $10.00 a carton? They need to go after all the fast food places. Obesity has become an issue in this country, which causes just as many health issues as cigarettes.

  • jg2007 Apr 7, 2009

    The State is in BAD, BAD shape everyone. You can go to the Wake County Property tax page and see it for yourself. The Governors $9,775,667 Manison on Blount St. is Delinquent on there property tax. What the sad part is its only 24.00$ & 26.00$.

  • PeterG Apr 7, 2009

    "I've got any idea". Ok so I wasn't a good rep either but I remembered periods :O)

  • PeterG Apr 7, 2009

    PBJ Beach, I can't comprehend this paragraph. Although I'm a state employee I've got any idea why they may want to cut some of us.

  • pbjbeach Apr 7, 2009

    Why is it that the only way that the legisture only knows one way to balance the state budget an that being on the back of state employees, why is it that the legisture can cut spending an reduce the use of contracting within state government for every contract that is let has in it what is called mobilazation funds which in reality is just the paying of a contractor fro moving on to the job site with his equipment an there are in all probability a lot of other wastful area in these contracts that could be eliminated in order to save state funding if the legisture just would or could muster the guts an political courage to do so but this will never happen due to the fact that the politicians are to colosely tied to the corruption in dealing with state contracting & purchases thank you

  • miketroll3572 Apr 7, 2009

    I am ashamed to be from N.C. these days.......our Goverment is a joke.

  • shellbelle Apr 7, 2009

    Cutting the budget without taking a look at the real impact is so neglectful to the NC citizens. Start by cutting top staffers... not ADDING more positions.

    I don't agree with all of the things that have been done 'in the name of education' in the past... but to increase class sizes and cut teaching jobs - doesn't feel like the right move to me.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Apr 7, 2009

    I heard Linda Garrous on the radio this morning saying that this budget is all about "creating jobs". By eliminating 700 state employees and forcing others to take unpaid time off? Once again the state budget gets balanced on the back of the state employees.

  • Over Taxed In NC Apr 6, 2009

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