04/08/09 — Local state senators mixed on budget

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Local state senators mixed on budget

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on April 8, 2009 1:46 PM

Reaction by Wayne County's state senators to their chamber's budget proposal was mixed this morning as they prepared to vote on the measure possibly as early as today.

Sen. Don Davis, D-Greene, declined to commit to a position on the $20.05 billion spending plan, citing the work still to be done before the start of session this afternoon.

"This is a marathon, not a sprint. I don't think you commit yourself to an up or down vote until it's through the process," he said. "As we see where we're at today as we get closer to session, I could probably tell you what I'm going to do then."

Currently, he said, his primary concern is the budget's effect on Cherry Hospital and the potential loss of jobs at the state psychiatric facility.

He explained that he was working this morning on an amendment to protect those positions.

However, he acknowledged that potential cuts to teachers through increased class sizes and other tough decisions may have to stand.

"The reality of it is, these are tough times and we're trying to protect as many jobs as we can all across the state," he said.

On the other hand, Sen. David Rouzer, R-Johnston, said he was disappointed by the proposal and said that it was one he could not support, especially with a $1 billion placeholder left for tax adjustments -- meaning potential alcohol and cigarette tax increases, as well as possible taxes on services.

Additionally, he said, the cuts that are included in the budget aren't enough.

"If families are having to cut their budgets and the families are who are supporting the government's budget, then doesn't it make sense for the government to cut its budget?" he said.

He also said he was disappointed in his party's lack of ability to influence the final decision.

"The majority has decided what they're going to do, and that's to increase spending and increase taxes and fees, and that's what they believe is in the best interests of North Carolina's long-term viability," he said. "I just have a fundamental disagreement with that."