Perdue's 'toolbox' on the way

NC Senate lawmakers are working on new budget oversight powers for the governor, hoping to ease next year's cuts.

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Senator Richard Stevens

Governor Bev Perdue is expected to send her budget proposal for the next biennium to the legislature sometime during the week of Feb. 14. 

But in the meantime, she's hoping to do some work on this year's spending – if the General Assembly lets her. 

Deciding state spending is the legislature's job, not the governor's.  As Director of the Budget, her job is to manage what they authorize.  If the state's running into the red, the NC Constitution gives the governor pretty broad powers to pull back or redirect money.  But if – as is the case this year – the state isn't currently in the hole, she can't do much to hold back money, even with a $3.7 billion shortfall looming in the very near future.  

Perdue has asked lawmakers for more power to cut this year's spending, saying it could provide them with some cushion as they head into the difficult 2011 budget. On Monday, Senior Senate Budget Chair Richard Stevens (R-Wake) filed a bill to give her that power: S13. 

The text of the bill isn't yet online tonight, but in a nutshell, it allows the governor to cut up to $400 million from state spending in the fiscal year 2010-11. So lawmakers aren't permanently signing their budgeting power away – it's only in effect until the end of June.  

Senate Leader Phil Berger says his chamber is hoping to move the bill through committee, if not to a full floor vote, by the end of the week.  The sooner she starts, the logic goes, the more she may be able to save – and the less lawmakers will have to cut in the next cycle.  


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