Perdue proposes $19 billion budget

STAFF WRITERSApril 20, 2010 

PERDUE02.NE.042010.ASR

Gov. Bev Perdue proposes a $19 billion state budget this morning. She's had to deal with a $788 million deficit that is likely to grow bigger in the coming weeks. Her budget cuts nearly $1 billion in spending by eliminating 600 jobs, mostly vacant, and cutting spending 5 to 7 percent for departments outside of education.

SHAWN ROCCO - SROCCO@NEWSOBSERVER.COM

— Gov. Bev Perdue proposed a $19 billion state budget today that cuts nearly $1 billion in spending by eliminating 600 jobs, mostly vacant, and cutting spending 5 to 7 percent for departments outside of education.

Perdue said her budget proposal reflects the fact that although the economy is improving, a full recovery will take some time.

"This budget helps us set the table for the new normal," Perdue told reporters.

Economic forecasters expect a deficit of at least $800 million and Perdue's budget closes that gap through cuts. She also proposes moving hundreds of millions to increase funding for her priorities, such as her "Ready, Set, Go!" education initiative, which seeks to ensure that all students are performing at grade level and are ready for college or a career.

Perdue also proposed eliminating in-home personal care services, which serves elderly people who have trouble caring for themselves. The cut would save $59.8 million. Perdue proposed replacing the service with a new program for adults with the most intense needs.

Other line items include:

Perdue proposed cutting $20.5 million from prison inmate health care costs by standardizing the rates providers can charge. Previously hospitals and doctors were charging widely divergent rates for procedures.

Perdue's budget restores $14 million in assistance for patients who need help paying for AIDS drugs.

Perdue proposed a half percent one-time salary bonus for state employees to compensate for a pay cut in the last fiscal year. Teachers would get their scheduled step increases that are based on longevity.

Employees who aren't teachers would also receive 32 hours of bonus time off.

Public school districts would have to make their own cuts based on their size. Larger districts will have to cut more.

University campuses will have to cut 4 percent.

Perdue also proposed spending $86 million on programs meant to create jobs.

The recession has led to a high unemployment rate, which means that people are paying less in income tax and businesses are making less money. Those two factors have contributed to continued declines in the revenue the state is collecting.

The legislature reconvenes in May to consider the budget proposal. Both the House and Senate will take a turn at writing a version and they must agree on a draft. Perdue can then either sign it into law or veto it.

Last year's budget was balanced with a combination of spending cuts and $1 billion in new taxes. This year is an election year and new taxes are unlikely.

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