Local Politics

Perdue says she won't second-guess her moves

Posted May 6, 2009 5:50 p.m. EDT
Updated May 6, 2009 5:56 p.m. EDT

— Gov. Beverly Perdue said she views the state budget deficit, the swine flu outbreak and shake-ups in the mental health system and highway program as opportunities instead of challenges.

During her first four months in office, Perdue has faced a mind-boggling array of problems, and she said she had tried to confront them head on and not second-guess her moves.

"Who would have thought the hole I had to bridge in a six-month period, from January when I was sworn in, would be over $3 billion? That's a tremendous amount," she said. "It's the hand you're dealt with ... It is what it is. That's my favorite phrase – I have it in my office – it is what it is."

Lawmakers learned Wednesday that the budget gap will be even deeper in the fiscal year starting in July. With tax collections lagging, fiscal analysts projected the shortfall to reach $4.6 billion in 2009-10.

Perdue said she has tried to close the gap for the current fiscal year through canceled contracts, slowing the growth of some state programs and pay cuts for state workers.

"I didn't want to make that decision. Everybody knew I didn't want to make it," she said of her recent order to furlough workers by giving them 10 hours of time off in exchange for a 0.5 percent cut in pay.

State workers have protested the move, but Perdue said she really had no choice because of the growing deficit.

"I could either furlough – let everybody bleed, and they're bleeding – (which was) something I didn't want to do, or I could just arbitrarily fire $60 million worth of people," she said.

As lawmakers try to craft a budget that meets the governor's approval, Perdue said she's determined that the economic crisis not force state government into a status quo situation.

"We're beginning to see some glimmers of recovery, and with that, we can rest assured that we need to continue to invest in schools (and) invest in job training," she said. "In the long term, (we need to) focus on technology, energy, the military, the things you heard me talk about in the campaign."