Local News

Hunt Says He Is Not To Blame For State's Budget Woes

Posted February 11, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST

— While the state struggles to balance the budget, former governor Jim Hunt has a take on the state's money shortage.

Hunt says he is not the one to blame for the state's budget woes.

"Of course, you can't ever be completely clear about the future, but everybody thought this economy was going to keep going strong and that's what the authorities were telling us," he said Monday at the Emerging Issues Forum at N.C. State.

Hunt applauds the measures his successor Mike Easley has taken to stem the red ink.

"I've done them in the past. I've cut spending dramatically. One year, we had to freeze teacher and state employee pay that made a lot of people unhappy, but that's the way it is with a dynamic economy," he says. "It goes up and down and as soon as you find out, you make some adjustments. That's what we're doing now."

Former state treasurer Harlan Boyles says it should not have taken a rocket scientist to know problems were on the horizon.

"When you ask how this happened, and maybe we should have foreseen this, obviously I think we should have," he says. "There were a lot of people associated with this, so that there's no way to isolate any one person."

Boyles says the blame for the ballooning budget deficit lies with Hunt, theGeneral Assembly, and himself, among others. He says Easley has done a good job addressing the problem in the short term, but he has questions about his ability to handle the problem in the long term.