07/01/09 — Stopgap watch: They have the extension -- now all we have to do is stay calm

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Stopgap watch: They have the extension -- now all we have to do is stay calm

One of the most difficult parts to watch in the continuing budget saga in North Carolina is the astonishing lack of leadership from the governor's office.

And Gov. Bev Perdue's silence on the issue is not the only part of the last few weeks that should give North Carolina residents the "willys."

The legislature seems more like a hamster cage lately -- lots of people around making noise and running on the exercise wheel, but no one really having anything significant to contribute.

And, in all fairness to the men and women who were unfortunate enough to sign up to serve this budget year, it has not really been their fault.

The budget deficit has changed amounts multiple times, which means coming up with a viable spending plan has been a whole lot like trying to shoot a moving target while standing on a merry-go-round.

And now, to complete the picture, a plan to cover some of the state's revenue needs has become a football of its own -- going from a proposed $784 million compromise back to the drawing table with the governor's call for $1.5 billion.

And while all of this is going on, the state's counties, schools and economy are grinding to a halt. People aren't sure whether to spend, save or just hide under their beds until someone, somewhere comes up with more than another shrug and "we are doing the best we can."

Well, take a breath.

Here's the reality -- even though we probably are not going to like it. The budget process is far from over -- and believe it, no one really has the right answer for what to do next.

There are consequences for every decision that could be made. Keep in mind that cutting large numbers of jobs in this state -- for any reason -- is not going to make the economy jump for joy.

What North Carolina residents need to do now is call for leadership from somewhere -- and to push their legislators to make their stand and stick to it.

There is no magic wand -- or a magic deadline -- that is going to make this all right. And there just might be a few more mistakes before the fight is over.

But in the end, it is time to bite the bullet and get about the business of getting North Carolina moving and growing again.

This will be resolved, one way or the other, and we will come out fine, just like we always have.

And if that is not enough to get you feeling better, just keep this in mind: At least we don't live in South Carolina.

Published in Editorials on July 1, 2009 11:12 AM