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Groups Hurt By State Budget Voice Displeasure Over Cuts

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RALEIGH, N.C. — There has been plenty of fallout since state departments have had time to mull over

the nearly $15 billion budget approved Monday by Gov. Easley.

As usual, the groups that saw the biggest cuts are making the most noise.

An average of 93 children die each year in North Carolina from gun violence, and about 180 die in car crashes. But the state group that lobbies for gun locks and child safety restraints to save lives may be about to go out of business.

The state budget eliminated the only full-time paid position on the Child Fatality Task Force -- one of 1,300 job cuts.

"We don't see any kind of rationale," said Jennifer Whiteside, of the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force. "We think the legislature needs to be concerned with saving children's lives. It doesn't sound like they have done that with this budget."


State Bureau of Investigation

got its wish of more money for DNA testing to fight crime. But the group took hits in other areas.

"The SBI had to take its cuts just like everybody else," Attorney General Roy Cooper said. "It is very difficult when you have increased responsibility and fewer resources."

Even education learned a tough lesson in supply and demand.

"Eight million dollars each in vocational education and teacher assistants is certainly going to produce some pain," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Ward.

In trying to determine the winners and losers in the budget battle, John Hood, of the

John Locke Foundation,

said: "I think Gov. Easley was one of the losers."

Hood said there was fuzzy math used in the budget.

"But ultimately," he said of Easley, "he signed the budget with the rosy revenue forecast and the spending that he didn't like."

North Carolina lawmakers just beat the deadline in passing a new budget. Other states were not as fortunate. California, Oregon, Nevada, New Hampshire and Connecticut still don't have budgets.

California has the biggest problem. The shortfall there is $38 billion -- more than double the North Carolina budget.


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