State lawmakers try again for spending cuts

Posted March 1, 2011 5:00 p.m. EST
Updated March 1, 2011 7:11 p.m. EST

State lawmakers are trying again to set aside a cash reserve to help with next year’s anticipated $2.4 billion budget shortfall.

Senate Bill 109 would direct Gov. Bev Perdue to hold back about $538 million from executive branch spending in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30th. The measure gives Perdue the emergency budget powers she’s asked for, allowing her to hold back spending from agencies she doesn’t directly oversee, like the Departments of Public Instruction, Labor and Agriculture, the Attorney General’s office and the University of North Carolina system.

Last week, Perdue vetoed Senate Bill 13, which would have given her those emergency budget powers but would have also taken about $138 million from special-purpose accounts. More than half that total would’ve come from economic development funds Perdue says are critically important to attracting jobs to the state.

The new measure would set the same target as the vetoed bill, but sponsor Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, said it wouldn’t include cuts to specified funds. “Basically, the governor gets to pick the cuts. No mandates.”

The bill passed its first Senate vote easily, 41-8. It’s scheduled for a final vote tomorrow. After that, it moves on to the House.

Perdue’s press secretary Chris Mackey says the governor will wait to see the final version of the bill before she'll comment on it.   But Hunt says he doesn’t think she’ll veto this one.

“She recognizes that we have got – we’re trying to figure out a way to balance the budget without raising taxes and without putting money back on the countries and cities. That’s our goal,” he said.