Education bears load in budget

Staff WritersApril 21, 2010 

— Gov. Bev Perdue presented a budget plan Tuesday that she says would save $1 billion by moves such as closing a wilderness camp for juvenile offenders and cutting out basic dental care for Medicaid patients.

The $19 billion proposal would keep spending almost flat and not raise taxes.

Perdue's budget, a starting point for what the legislature passes, would make about half its cuts in schools, community colleges and universities.

The plan that covers the fiscal year that begins July 1, counts as savings nearly $600 million in federal stimulus money that will disappear the following year.

"We are in a cash-short enterprise, and we have to make choices," Perdue said.

Rep. Paul Stam, an Apex Republican and the House minority leader, said that her budget proposal does not cut enough and that her accounting of the stimulus money is deceptive. "She's moving things around, but it's not a cut," he said.

The governor's budget would slash 600 jobs, most vacant. Agency budgets would be trimmed by 5 percent to 7 percent. Schools, community colleges and universities would take a 4 percent hit.

Spending on health and human services, about a quarter of the budget, would rise because more people are enrolled in Medicaid, the state and federally funded health insurance for the disabled and poor. Those on the plan would get less in services.

Perdue managed to provide tax credits for small businesses that hire long-term unemployed workers and a payback of last year's salary cut for state employees - plus four vacation days.

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