NC Supreme Court to determine governor's powers during a fiscal emergency
RALEIGH, North Carolina: The North Carolina State Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday related to the power of the governor during a fiscal crisis. Specifically, whether the state constitution gives the governor the power to shift money around in order to balance the budget, or if the legislature has to approve such moves.
The case is based on an executive order issued in February 2002 by then Gov. Mike Easley which transferred $80 million from the Highway Trust Fund to pay for other government operations. Former State Sen. Bill Goldston and former Transportation Secretary Jim Harrington, who both helped to create the Highway Trust Fund, sued to challenge Easley's move, arguing that money raised for the fund could only be used for its original purposes. Initially the case was dismissed by a Wake County judge two years ago, but it was overturned last fall by a Court of Appeals panel.
Last year Gov. Beverly Perdue took money from several special funds in order to help cut the deficit, including the Clean Water Trust Fund and the public school building and textbook funds. The court's ruling is expected by the end of the year.