Local News

Easley Predicts 'Tight' State Budget

Posted December 11, 2006 6:44 p.m. EST
Updated December 12, 2006 1:52 p.m. EST

— Gov. Mike Easley has a record of penny-pinching, and he said Monday that the 2007-2009 budget would be no different.

North Carolina will enter the new two-year budget cycle in in good financial shape, Easley said, but the next budget will be "tight."

"I think people expect (a fiscally conservative governor), and I don't think it's always bad, by the way," he said.

Easley said he has several items on his agenda for the new General Assembly to tackle, including another boost in teacher pay, an adoption tax credit, more scholarships for needy children, health care improvements and more money for foster care.

"I think the Legislature will not only be willing to do that, I think they'll be anxious to do it," he said.

The state also should provide financial assistance to the families of North Carolina National Guard members serving in Afghanistan, Easley said. Thousands of guardsmen are overseas in the National Guard's largest deployment since World War I.

"We see (National) Guard families that are having to file bankruptcy. ... We're also seeing a lot of spouses having to quit work and stay home to take care of their children," he said. "They're courageous people doing a great job for the state and nation, and we're proud of them. But they should never have been put in this position to begin with."

Easley said he wouldn't get involved in the race for the House speaker's position.

Questions have been raised about incumbent Speaker Jim Black's campaign finances, and he has been linked to a former aide convicted of a lobbying violation, a former lottery commissioner convicted of fraud and a former lawmaker convicted of accepting a bribe. Black race for re-election also was tightly contested.

"I'm not going to get in the middle of that fight because it's their institution," Easley said. "They don't need to have 'the governor's pick.' They need to have their own pick for loyalty to work with their eventual leader."