06/27/08 — Area lawmakers talk budget

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Area lawmakers talk budget

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on June 27, 2008 1:46 PM

Faced with $70 million less in revenues than expected only a month ago, local legislators admitted today that they're going to have to scramble a little bit to re-balance the 2008-09 budget.

"Obviously it's less money to spend, and we can't do any deficit spending, so they'll have to go back and cut something out. We have to live within the confines of what's available, so there will be some changes that have to be made and relatively quickly," said state Rep. Louis Pate, R-Wayne.

He's just not sure where those cuts will come -- whether from specific programs or across the board.

"I hope they do the right thing," he said. "I think they'll have to look at some of the social programs. I hope they don't do anything with the pay raises for state employees and teachers.

"The simplest thing, though, might be to just slash everybody by a quarter of a percent or something like that. The problem is they have been adding recurring expenses and paying for them with non-recurring revenues."

However, Rep. Van Braxton, D-Lenoir, noted, at the end of the day, $70 million -- less than one-third of 1 percent of the state's $21 billion spending plan -- isn't likely to make or break the state.

"It should have very little effect," he said. "When you're looking at a $21 billion budget, $70 million is a lot of money, but it's not a lot considering the whole budget. So it should have very little impact. Hopefully we'll have not budgeted all the revenue ($151 million) that we had expected so we'll have some wiggle room."

Pate does not believe the lack of revenues will lead to re-examining tax increases on cigarettes and alcohol that Gov. Easley had initially proposed.