Easley had until midnight Friday to sign the $21.4 billion spending plan into law or veto it. He also could have let the bill become law without his signature.
The governor hasn't spoken publicly about whether he likes the spending plan. Easley administration officials have said the bill was improved because lawmakers reduced spending and delayed two tax breaks.
His office issued a two-sentence statement Wednesday afternoon to acknowledge he had signed the budget bill.
"The governor has signed the budget and thanks legislators for their hard work. He looks forward to the General Assembly finishing work on important remaining issues, including legislation on drought, home foreclosure and mental health," the statement said.
Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, the House's top budget negotiator, said he believed Easley was holding out for additional money for his Learn and Earn alternative high school initiative. Any additional funds would have to go into another bill, however.