Perdue vows no tax increases in 2011
Posted December 16, 2010 6:09 p.m. EST
Updated December 16, 2010 10:17 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — This festive atmosphere around the Governor's Mansion is likely to change in the coming weeks and months as state leaders work to close a projected $3.7 billion budget shortfall.
Gov. Beverly Perdue told a gathering of reporters Thursday that she plans to balance the budget without raising taxes, including extending temporary taxes that expire next year.
"At this point in time, I don't know how to spell tax increase. It is off my plate now," she said.
Republicans will control both the state House and Senate for the first time in more than a century when the General Assembly reconvenes in January, and top lawmakers said last month that they expect budget cuts to cause a lot of pain statewide.
Perdue said Thursday that she plans to protect job development and education as much as possible.
"(As for) the rest, I'm going to make a lot of people real unhappy, and I'm sorry," she said. "If the state doesn't have money and you have to prioritize, you have to do some bad things, I guess – things that are difficult."
The governor called the state's 9.6 percent unemployment rate abysmal, but she said the economy and the jobs picture are slowly improving. At the beginning of 2010, the unemployment rate was 11.1 percent.
"During the next year, I'm going to systematically focus on the future and on what positive things we can do to turn around that kind of malaise," she said.
She cited more targeted incentives to convince businesses to locate or expand in North Carolina and create jobs.
Perdue also said she would continue to look at privatizing state-run alcohol sales and is considering legislation that would allow the commander of the Highway Patrol to come from outside the agency's ranks. She said she believes Dorothea Dix Hospital should remain open to house mentally ill criminals, but added that service could be privatized.
The governor said she is proud of her efforts to be more transparent and reform state government. For example, she rolled out a new website Thursday to streamline procurement functions and leverage the state's buying power.