State budget, record high gas prices

RALEIGH While many of you may be thinking about trading your gas-guzzling SUV for a smaller car, the state is not.

Go to a gas station and people will tell you they are downsizing with fuel at $4 a gallon.

"One person drives one week. And the rest of us jump in. And another person drives the next week," Raleigh resident Jeffrey Davis said.

"Every citizen should probably do what they can to conserve gas," Raleigh resident Leon Barber added.

But outside the governor's office Wednesday, state-owned SUV's were parked all over the capital.

The state motor pool buys about a thousand new cars a year. And despite gas prices, this year's budget makes no changes to the types of vehicles to buy.

"That's unbelievable, especially today. We should think differently about the way we drive," Davis said.

"Should we not do what every other business does?" Asheville Rep. Charles Thomas said.

Some law-makers say it's time state workers trade in those Chevy Suburban's and Crown Victoria's for similar but more fuel efficient cars.

Instead of Crown Vic's, the state would buy Hyundai Sonata's.

"How would you feel about the Governor riding around in a Hyundai Sonata? Fine. I think it would be absolutely fine. He ought to do it," Barber said.

Law enforcement vehicles would be exempt from the fuel rule, but the efficiency requirement would save the state $2 million a year by 2012.

"That tax-payer knows that they're not just paying to put that gas in their car. They're paying to put the gas in that other car, too," Thomas said.

But Wednesday, the fuel efficiency bill was dramatically watered down. Opponents said it would disqualify many American made cars.

But the list of fuel efficient cars does include some American brands. Like the Jeep Patriot which gets 50 percent better gas mileage then the state's Chevy Suburban's.

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