State departments come forward with cuts

November 23, 2010 4:24:39 AM PST
Governor Beverly Perdue asked for ideas for cuts, and she's gotten them from almost 20 departments. From schools to prisons, the proposals represent painful cuts. The Department of Public Instruction - for example - is offering two scenarios: A 5 percent cut that would mean 429 fewer teachers, or a 10 percent cut with 523 fewer teachers. That doesn't include teacher's assistants or administration.

"The cuts would be equivalent to our eliminating 165 schools in the state," State Superintendent Public Instruction June Atkinson said. "We're at the place where we have no other place to cut."

Under a 5 percent cut, schools would need to find about $700 million in savings, under a 10 percent cut that number jumps to more than $1 billion.

"It is virtually impossible for us to make those cuts without having fewer teachers, without larger class sizes, without fewer courses offered, and without being able to give help to struggling students," Atkinson said.

Along with fewer teachers and staff, class sizes would almost certainly jump --as much as three students per class in some grades levels.

Meanwhile, the Department of Correction has only been able to find 2 percent in cuts so far, but that would still mean 236 jobs lost and changes in the system itself. People now jailed for misdemeanors wouldn't be, and the Haywood Correctional Center would close.

The litter squad would be reduced and so would prisoners helping counties with beautification programs.

Health and Human Services would see more big cuts. In a 5 percent cut scenario, 93 jobs would be gone. The biggest cuts would come from mental health, social services, and child development.

In Cultural Resources, there would be 106 jobs gone in the worst case.

And the list goes on. Click here for the full list.

However, some departments say they couldn't find cuts anywhere. Republican Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler flat-out refused the governor's request, saying he can't cut anything without jeopardizing public safety.

The state auditor's office, instead of suggesting cuts, asked the governor to suggest audits to forgo.

State leaders stress these are just proposals, but with the state wallowing in red ink and the governor and the new Republican majority are pledging to cut spending, but some deep cuts are inevitable.

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