05/19/09 — Better times? Governor says good news ahead, but there are dangers, too

View Archive

Better times? Governor says good news ahead, but there are dangers, too

Gee, don't you kind of hope that Gov. Bev Perdue has it right?

This week at a meeting to discuss the practical application of stimulus funding in North Carolina, the governor suggested that while the state is not out of the woods yet, there is some good news coming about the economy.

And perhaps she is right. There have been some bright spots nationally and in some areas of the country.

But there is a dark cloud looming on the horizon -- one that we need to keep our eye on as we keep looking for the next bit of positive news in this rather turbulent economy.

When you are making a budget -- and you forecast more programs and more spending -- that money has to come from somewhere.

And just as President Barack Obama has started to wonder, just a bit, how he is going to manage the enormous amount of debt he has created with his economic stimulus plans, so, too, should any state official looking to take advantage of what looks like "free money."

There will be consequences. There have to be. Money cannot just be manufactured out of the sky -- and programs that are created with grants and free-at-the-time money cannot sustain themselves without a funding source once that free money disappears.

So that means that before we start scrambling to add projects we do not need, North Carolina's state and local leaders better think about consequences after the "we're in the money" feeling wears off.

This is a classic case of buyer beware.

Just as national leaders are trying to find ways to tax something, anything, to pay for proposed reforms to the health-care system, so, too, will state leaders have to figure out where the money is going to come from to sustain whatever programs are created by the stimulus funding.

The reality is still that nothing comes without strings. Just ask Chrysler.

So, North Carolina might be coming out of the doldrums and good times might very well be ahead, but careful planning and knowing when to say "no thank you" might be the key to keeping it that way.

Budget cuts have become the norm this year.

Frugal and intelligent spending should be the game plan for the next couple of years to come.

Published in Editorials on May 19, 2009 10:16 AM