11/28/08 — Rude awakening: Governor startled into making impulsive economic demand

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Rude awakening: Governor startled into making impulsive economic demand

Could whoever woke Gov. Mike Easley up please put him back to sleep?

After what has seemed like a full term of forgetting that he was the governor, this lame duck has decided to flap his wings.

And in a big way.

While it might seem like a good idea to fast track a bunch of government projects -- who could argue with good, old construction -- it seems that perhaps the act might be a bit rash and not the best idea right now at a time when there might be more pressing needs.

The governor has just asked for millions of dollars back from the state's schools because of a budget deficit that seems to have all of a sudden creeped up on North Carolina's leaders.

And in very few places on the list of approved projects for this stimulus package do you see the words "school" or "education."

Sure, there are a few colleges getting a boost -- and none around these parts by the way -- but the state's elementary and secondary schools did not make the list.

Hmmm. Education governor, huh?

Now, sure, these are projects that are already in the works -- and with the pace at which state leaders work, there simply might not be enough time to retool the list.

But after years of a great expanse of almost nothing from Raleigh, this is a whole lot to get done in the last few weeks of an administration -- especially in such an "executive order" kind of edict.

Hopefully, Lt. Gov. and Gov.-elect Bev Perdue is doing some supervising.

Look, the trick when there is an economic challenge in a state that has been doing pretty well is not to panic, not to make spur-of-the-moment decisions that could potentially make things worse, not to set up a whole program you are not going to be around to supervise.

And, really, when you are on your way out is not the time to send the apple cart careening down a potentially hairpin curve.

A stimulus package is not such a bad idea. North Carolina leaders should be thinking about the next, best step.

But what we don't need now, when the country is trying to figure out the twists and turns of bailouts and market fluctuations, is another big-ticket expenditure.

And then there is the little problem of the rather checkered past of other state construction projects -- of the road variety. We certainly should be making sure those oversight concerns are resolved before we take on $700 million in new projects.

Easley should go back to his easy chair and enjoy a restful rest of his last term.

His job now is to keep the ship on course -- not to throw the map out the window.

It will be Gov.-elect Perdue's job to decide what comes next -- and hopefully she will do prudently and thoughtfully.

Published in Editorials on November 28, 2008 10:43 AM