Local Politics

Perdue remains upbeat about state's future, her performance

Posted July 13, 2009 5:21 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2009 6:15 p.m. EDT

— Gov. Beverly Perdue said Monday that she continues to work with lawmakers on hammering out a budget, and is focused on the future despite a difficult first six months in office.

A sagging economy and talk of deep cuts and tax increases to balance the state budget have defined the beginning of her tenure as North Carolina's first female governor. Recent public opinion polls show her approval rating is in the 30 percent range.

"The polling is awful, but I've been in public service long enough that I'm used to awful polls. It comes and goes," Perdue said in an interview with WRAL News.

Instead of focusing on the eroding poll numbers, she said, she remains focused on issues confronting the state.

"I was elected to protect the core services of North Carolina and help us make certain progress, and I'm going to do that," she said. "You can see tremendous progress in stabilizing the mental health system with zero tolerance (of patient abuse and neglect) and stabilizing the parole system. For heaven's sake, I'm the governor who'll go down in history as taking over the first public school system in North Carolina because I went to Halifax County and I wouldn't let my child or grandchildren go to those schools."

Perdue said she spent much of the weekend talking by phone with key lawmakers to break the impasse between the House and Senate on a new state budget.

"There was give and take, with a bit of a break where the conflict is so intense," she said.

The governor said she believes the budget "will be done soon" and will include the one-cent increase to the sales tax rate she has proposed to enact for 13 months, beginning in September, to raise enough money so lawmakers don't have to cut education spending so much.

"The good news for us is things are perhaps beginning to give us a ray of hope," she said.

During her campaign, Perdue pledged openness and transparency. She said her cabinet and staff clearly understand the goal.

"This is a privilege we have every day. We ought to be honorable and have integrity," she said.