Financial crisis tops legislative agenda

RALEIGH The General Assembly returns to work facing the worst fiscal crisis in a generation.

Lawmakers have to find $3 billion to cover the gap between revenues and expenses for government as the recession eats into tax collections.

They also have a new governor to work with in Beverly Perdue. She's pledged to pursue some of the same stimulus plans her predecessor Governor Easley proposed. She's also hoping the state will get a cut of any potential federal stimulus package.

In the meantime, the Governor and the Legislature will be looking for ways to cut the state budget wherever they can to make up for the shortfall.

Democrats remain in control of both chambers.

Lawmakers are also expected to struggle to find the money to fix problem roads, mental health services that have been under the microscope for their failures, and a probation system that's also been the subject of controversy.

With money hard to come by, there's not expected to be any major new programs coming out of this session. Lawmakers tell Eyewitness News they expect to spend most of their time trying to overcome the red ink.

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