08/13/05 — State’s long budget battle leaves many issues unsettled

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State’s long budget battle leaves many issues unsettled

Finally, after what has seemed like months, the North Carolina Legislature has passed a state budget.

And from the looks of the list of items that still remain unfinished in Raleigh, it is possible that those same legislators still could have used another month or two to get the job completely done.

There is no final decision on the lottery, although there has been plenty of arguing about whether it is the right choice to provide additional — and apparently much-needed — funding for North Carolina schools.

And there is no sign that the “pros” and the “cons” are any closer to meeting in the middle on the lottery issue. It seems in North Carolina’s Legislature, you are either for or against the lottery, and not too willing to think about the other side’s point of view.

We also aren’t sure yet if there will be an increase in the minimum wage — an issue that could have a profound effect on the state’s small business community.

And no one has determined yet if there should be a limit on how much cold medicine you can buy, or what form anti-identity theft legislation should take.

And then there is the worker’s compensation bill, which also hadn’t cleared the full Senate as of Friday morning.

There is one issue that does need a closer look. The proposal to look at the state’s death penalty provisions is one that needs time and careful attention.

There are a lot of factors involved in making sure the right decision is made when it comes to not only the offender’s rights, but those of the victims of their crimes as well.

No one seemed too surprised that the Legislature needed a few extensions to get the budget work done. Historical fact points to that tradition. Perhaps it is time to think about a late fee charge for every day or week the budget is late. You never know, that just might be the incentive this state’s leaders need to get their jobs done in a more timely manner.

But when you read what was done, and there are a lot of entries, you might be surprised how quickly some of the provisions seemed to have made the list — and you might also wonder why.

Take the time to look over the entire budget if you can. At least that way, as you prepare to write your next tax check, you will know where your money is or is not going.

And it might make you feel better — or worse — depending on what you read and where you live.

Published in Editorials on August 13, 2005 11:00 PM