Perdue: Budget shortfall over $3 billion

Teachers and state employees will see pay cuts
RALEIGH Now lawmakers are getting an earful from people trying to protect certain programs and services in next year's budget and prevent more cuts in the future.

On Tuesday night, the State House Committee held a public hearing on next year's budget, the same day Governor Bev Perdue announced a pay cut for all state employees --from college professors to the highway patrol and teachers in every public school across the state.

At the meeting, security had to help an overflow crowd. They want to save everything from mental health programs, community colleges, to early childhood education.

"We have two more at four classes, class size 36 children that we would be losing because of a budget cut," Preschool Asst. Director Coprecia Robinson said.

Sorrell is fighting to save the office of environmental education next year.

"The plan right now is to totally eliminate the office," educator Mickey Sorrell said.

Earlier in the day, Perdue signed an executive order which implements a flexible furlough program for all state employees. It's expected to net a $65 million saving. She's also identified other funds that can be used to close the gap, including tapping the state's Savings Reserve Account, and utilizing federal recovery dollars. She said that will bring in $1 billion.

Click here to read Perdue's order (.pdf)

The governor says the pay cuts are needed now to pay this year's bills.

Governor Perdue ordered the pay cuts by half a percent of their annual salary --for someone making $30,000 a year, that's $150 or $75 taken out of their May and June monthly paychecks.

"North Carolina continues to experience the effects of a national economic crisis, which force me to make difficult decisions in order to maintain a balanced budget through June," said Gov. Perdue in a statement to the media. "I will do what I must in order to ensure that North Carolina can pay our bills and provide the essential services required by our citizens."

In exchange, employees will be able to take 10 hours off with pay next fiscal year.

"I'm not disappointed in having to deal with it that way I think its extraordinary times, extraordinary measures," Morehead Planetarium educator Mickey Sorrell said.

Perdue also announced Tuesday she is taking a pay cut and those who don't have to by law are volunteering, like members of the general assembly, judges and the council of state.

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