State News

Perdue urges Congress members to pass stimulus

Posted February 6, 2009 4:01 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Gov. Bev Perdue said Friday she wants congressional Democrats to quickly pass a federal stimulus package that she says will create jobs for North Carolina.

Perdue joined Govs. David Paterson of New York, Ted Strickland of Ohio and Bill Ritter of Colorado in speaking to the U.S. House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference as the group sets its annual agenda.

She gave the representatives the same message that she delivered last month to members of the North Carolina congressional delegation: Money from the proposed federal stimulus package is needed to start infrastructure and other economic development projects that would create jobs while helping the state and national economy.

"I and other governors are doing all we can to balance the budget and be responsible, but during these unprecedented times, we can’t do it alone – we really need Washington," she said. "A substantial federal package will give states the opportunity to get people back to work, and it will also keep kids in the classroom, prisons open and seniors getting care."

Perdue said she also has talked with U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan about passing the stimulus, but she said she's not encouraged by the response she received from Burr. Most Republicans oppose the proposal as it's been crafted so far.

"I can't do this without eating our seed corn without federal stimulus dollars, and I'm just asking them to infuse our people with money to build infrastructure – things we need to get our people back to work," she told WRAL. "It will not help us if the stimulus dollars that will help us are so tied to rules and regulations we can't use those funds for two years."

The stimulus package also could assist Perdue and state lawmakers in narrowing the state's budget shortfall. Perdue said this week that the state needs more flexibility to use the money for that purpose.

Fiscal analysts have projected that the state's deficit will hit $2 billion this fiscal year and could reach $3 billion in the 2009-10 fiscal year. Perdue said corporate income tax revenues are down 50 percent from forecasts.

She has asked state agency directors to dig deeper for possible cuts to help erase part of the deficit.

"I will make the tough and hard decisions on North Carolina’s budget. I will balance the budget and do it responsibly. Governors do not expect Washington to make our jobs easier," she told the caucus members. "But we do ask and expect your active help in this extraordinary time to make sure that the stimulus efforts you enact are not offset and undermined by cuts states must make to balance our books."

Congressional leaders said they were impressed by her plea for help.

"She had tremendous presence. You could tell from the applause after she finished her presentation (that) people loved her," said House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat.