Lawmakers approve spending plan

RALEIGH The House approved a stopgap spending plan Monday night, which gives lawmakers more time to approve a budget.

Now, the bill returns to the Senate.

The stopgap comes as Democrats try to come to terms on tax increases.

First, the General Assembly Democrats said they agreed on ways to raise almost a billion dollars in new taxes.

Then Governor Bev Perdue said that fell short because she wants $1.5 billion in new revenue to minimize cuts in school spending.

"I don't believe you should dump more kids into any classroom in North Carolina," she argued. "I am absolutely adamant on K-3, and will fight until the last bill is debated."

Now, with the new budget year just days away, Perdue's fellow Democrats are only two-thirds of the way there on tax hikes.

Liberal lobbyists hoping for $1.5 billion in new taxes said they want clarity.

"She has to be very strong about what she says right now," one lobbyist said. "And we expect her to step up and say we need to protect these services."

But Monday, key Democrats said governor Perdue's call for $1.5 billion was too steep. They said they still plan to raise taxes, but by just under $1 billion.

Lawmakers said they will likely pass a temporary spending plan to keep state government working because the new fiscal year begins Wednesday.

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