Local Politics

U.S. House leaders still hoping for federal funding for state

Posted May 31, 2010 4:50 p.m. EDT
Updated May 31, 2010 7:12 p.m. EDT

Money

— Is Congress keeping North Carolina from passing a balanced budget?

Already $757 million short of projections for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the state planned to fill part of the gap with $500 million in federal stimulus funds – money that the U.S. House of Representatives took out of a federal jobs bill last week, leaving the state scrambling for another plan.

Deeper cuts would devastate education and cripple health and human services, state House and Senate leaders have said. They have predicted that thousands of jobs would be lost.

Democrat U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, of North Carolina's 13th District, supports assisting the states but says he has had to change strategy after a scaled-back version of the bill passed the U.S. House.

The bill, which removed $24 billion in aid to cash-starved states, would continue providing unemployment checks to people out of work more than six months and renew more than 50 tax breaks for individuals and businesses.

With more attention now on the growing national debt, Miller and U.S. Rep. David Price, a Democrat from North Carolina's 4th District, say they remain cautiously optimistic that the states will get additional support.

"I don't think it will be the entire amount," Price said. "I think there are concerns, legitimate concerns, about getting on a more sustainable course."

Timing remains critical.

The state's next fiscal year begins July 1. Price says the additional stimulus money is, at a minimum, still weeks away.