State News

Perdue calls on lawmakers to do more to save education

Posted June 17, 2009 12:45 p.m. EDT
Updated June 22, 2009 7:32 a.m. EDT

— Gov. Beverly Perdue has called on lawmakers negotiating the state budget to find more ways to generate additional revenue in an effort to help lessen the severity of cuts in education.

At a rally Wednesday morning, Perdue said that the House's proposed $784 million in additional taxes is not enough and that legislators trying to finalize a two-year budget plan need to find more ways to fund education.

Perdue acknowledged cuts need to occur but said they cannot be at the expense of education.

"We cannot increase class size. We cannot lay off teachers. We will not sacrifice North Carolina's economic future," Perdue told a crowd of educators and education supporters.

Senate leaders said the governor has asked them to come up with a plan to generate between $1 billion to $1.5 billion in revenue in the first year of the budget plan.

House and Senate leaders agree that they will aim for $900 million to $1 billion in the first year and $1.3 billion in the second year.

Where they differ, however, is how to come up with the money. The House's budget plan calls for higher sales and income taxes, while the Senate's plan calls for taxing more services.

"We still have a way to go, but we're making progress," Senate Finance Committee Chairman David Hoyle, D-Gaston, said.

Republican lawmakers, however were frustrated, saying Perdue was using scare tactics to grow government instead of proposing to cut waste out of the budget.

"For (Democrats), there will never be enough money," Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said.

Berger points to a $25 million fishing pier on the Outer Banks as an example.

"We don't need to be spending money at a time when our economy is suffering," he said. "We need to cut those kinds of things out before we go back to the taxpayer and ask for more money."

Wednesday morning's rally was the first of several planned this week. Perdue scheduled one in Greensboro later Wednesday and others in Charlotte, Asheville and Greenville over the next week.