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Budgetary problems set to take center stage in North Carolina
DURHAM, North Carolina: Major political and business leaders met on January 3 to discuss the state's economy in 2011. The annual meeting, known as the Economic Forecast Forum, is sponsored by the North Carolina Chamber and North Carolina Bankers Association. This year it included a panel to discuss budgetary issues and the projected $3.7 billion deficit.
The panel, which included State Budget Director Charlie Perusse, Republican Sen. Peter S. Brunstetter, who will serve as co-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Republican Rep. Harold Brubaker, gave an overview of the current state of the budget. The 2011-12 budget is expected to include $3.7 billion in cuts, but will not include any new taxes.
Brunstetter stated that, due to the enormity of the situation, deep and rapid cuts would be necessary, saying, "I would prefer to make changes like we're going to have to make over a multi-year period and phase things in to avoid the shock waves through the system. It's just I don't think that's the current economic environment we're in." He also stated that government layoffs would be necessary, but did not give an indication of how many.
The state Senate and House plan on drafting a new budget together, rather than the previous practice of each chamber drafting separate proposals. Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue is expected to present her budget plan by mid-February. She has already set out a government reorganization plan designed to save millions and has also ordered state agencies to hold onto 3.5% of spending to use towards next year's budget gap.
The audience at the 9th annual event was estimated at 1,000.