Governor Perdue warned Wednesday of what's to come on the state budget.
"There are tremendous cuts, tremendous cuts," Perdue said. "Things that I like that just break my heart to cut, but I'm doing what I can to do to protect public schools and keep people working."
Sales and corporate income tax returns have dried up with the slowing economy.
Some believe a budget shortfall of over $3 billion in North Carolina could mean cutting the state's $22 billion budget by 10 percent.
"Cutting the state budget by 10 percent is the equivalent of closing all community colleges or closing all the state prisons," said Elaine Mejia with the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center.
Governor Perdue has already made executive decisions on mid-year cuts. She's cut most state departments by 9 percent, state mental health care by 5 percent and K-12 schools by 2 percent.
"My priorities have not changed," Perdue said. "Hold the classroom and public schools as harmless as I can. That's a huge priority for me."
But keeping cuts from the classroom might not be realistic next year. Perdue's budget proposal could come in just a couple of weeks.
"I'll make tough decisions and people aren't going to like them, but I didn't sign up for a popularity contest," Perdue said.