Easley wants massive stimulus package

RALEIGH The Governor wants $700 million in building projects. The money would be spent on two dozen projects from the state's ports to the mountains. They include prisons, university campus improvements, and more than $100 million for a Raleigh project for the state's environmental offices and a Nature Research Center.

"North Carolina is holding her own in job creation, but we are not immune from national economic trends, which means we have to take aggressive steps to minimize any hardships," Easley said in a statement.

"It could help quite a bit. $700 million is quite a bit of funds. And most of those funds we were not planning to spend next year. And because it's debt, we're not having to do this via a tax increase. So it's all new money into the economy right now," explained Elaine Mejia with the NC Budget & Tax Center.

But not everyone is cheering the plan. With the state budget in trouble, some say this is not the time to start spending.

"North Carolina already has a huge budget deficit. Now is certainly not the time to be increasing state spending," offered John Hood with the Lock Foundation. "The money to fund these projects has to come from somewhere. The money comes from tax-payers."

But Easley says the plan is necessary to give North Carolina's economy a jump start.

"When the new president and Congress pass an economic stimulus package early next year, I want to make sure North Carolina is immediately ready to take advantage of it," Easley said.

Governor-elect Beverly Perdue says she has similar spending plans on her agenda.

"These projects matter because they create construction jobs in the short term at a time when private development has slowed and rates and labor costs are low," Perdue said.

She did not specifically address the projects Easley has proposed.

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