Perdue to announce budget plans

RALEIGH At a meeting of the North Carolina Education Cabinet on Monday, Perdue pledged to spend more money on education.

Perdue said she wants to pump up school spending by $350 million. She's set to announce her overall budget proposal for the state at a news conference on Tuesday.

The Governor said she'll increase the per-student spending despite the grim overall budget picture. She's struggling to balance the budget despite shrinking tax revenues. She's ordered cutting spending at most state agencies by 9 percent, and has gone after pots of available money like the state's rainy day fund and cash from the North Carolina Education Lottery.

On Monday night during a private caucus meeting, senate republicans had a chance to discuss their goals and concerns about the budget.

"We're somewhat confused. Number one we hear last week we're going to increase per pupil spending," Sen. Tom Apodaca said. "Well, when I go home I talk to my local school administrators and they're hearing the opposite that they're going to be losing funds."

But by putting education in forefront some lawmakers are concerned an important area like mental health may take a back seat.

"We've had some instances in the last couple of weeks that have affected friends of my family, friends of my children with mental health issues," Apodaca said. "Finding help has just been almost nil. I mean, there's just no where to go."

However, there is speculation there will be more cuts to the DOT from state money, that'll likely be replaced by federal stimulus money.

Several lawmakers are concerned the governor maybe relying too much on stimulus money --a one time deal that won't be around for years to come.

Senator Floyd McKissick Jr. of Durham says some state programs may have to go to cover the multi-billion dollar shortfall.

"It's difficult to make tough choices," McKissick said. "There are certain programs, responsibilities the state has always performed here in North Carolina that we could allow the federal government come in and perform. If we do that we could save billions of dollars but we'll lose autonomy, control and personnel that would go along with it."

They all agree it's bound to be a bumpy road, but the governor says it's the right road to travel down.

"This is a budget that will put North Carolina on the road to recovery," Perdue said.

Perdue doesn't set the budget by herself. The North Carolina General Assembly does that with her input. Currently, North Carolina is more than $3 billion in the hole.

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