05/10/11 — One last stand: It's down to the nitty gritty; let's see what happens next

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One last stand: It's down to the nitty gritty; let's see what happens next

The truth is that no one is going to be happy with any of the budgets being proposed around the state this year.

There are going to be programs that will be cut -- and, unfortunately, in some cases, positions that will be eliminated or not filled.

It is what happens when a state decides it is going to get serious about balancing its budget.

There is a reason, however, for citizens and advocates alike to be watching closely.

Necessary spending is important to the state's future. If we want quality schools, better roads and the best possible chance of attracting more residents and jobs, we have to have the money to fund those line items.

But that is not really where the problems lie.

What has gotten the state government into trouble -- and frankly, the federal government, too -- is when money slips through the cracks and when officials make the decision to rely on money that is not guaranteed to stick around for more than a year.

North Carolina, like many other states and government bodies, has areas where there is wasteful spending and outrageous benefit packages. Unfortunately, those are areas we cannot afford to overlook anymore.

The days of hoping for frugality in government spending and hiring are over. Now, the public has to demand fiscal accountability -- and those old spending habits die hard.

And then there are the "free" federal dollars. You know what happens when a government uses those to get through the year. It pays the piper the following year.

Tough questions, tough decisions and more debate are a surety as the budget debate continues. And the end result will still need tweaking and adjusting.

However, North Carolina's citizens need to be adamant that the right decisions continue to be made. That is the best way to provide a future for our children that is bright -- and responsible.

Published in Editorials on May 10, 2011 11:02 AM