Governor Bev Perdue unveiled her proposed state budget Tuesday. Creating jobs and stabilizing our state's economy are a few of her top priorities. Despite the state facing the worst budget crunch in decades, Perdue is hoping to close a multi-billion dollar gap in the state's budget. “The investments that I have strategically made in this budget document is important I believe to the core future success of this state.” Some people call it a ‘Sin Tax.’ Perdue proposed a dollar-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax, moving it from $.35 per pack to $1.35. Her proposal would also increase the alcohol surcharge tax by five percent, as an attempt to stabilize the state's economy. Many seem in favor of the idea. "If it's going to a good cause, I don't mind paying extra taxes. It will cost me a little bit of money. I'll smoke half a pack a day, I don't mind,” said Mary Reisler. There is good news on the education front. Perdue does not want tuition increases for community colleges or the state's public universities. "Improving public education, keeping higher ed accessible and affordable, that's community college, vocational schools, and the university." Perdue wants to spend money on improving programs for career training in community colleges. "It is very important to put a value on education and training right now. With so many people out of work and looking for work, the more affordable job training is, the better off we will be in the long-run,” said CFCC spokesperson David Hardin. With the help of federal stimulus money, the state would put more than $100 million toward schools; $64 million to increase salaries on an experience-basis for teachers, and more than $3 million for under-performing schools. Ten million dollars would also go to gang prevention programs. In other arenas, infrastructure projects to help create jobs would get $50 million over the next two years even though the governor proposed eliminating more than one thousand state jobs and cutting more than 20 programs deemed inefficient. Another $36 million will help with a tax break for small business owners, and $2 million will go toward to promote tourism in the state. The legislature is expected to review Perdue’s budget plan and approve its own budget by this summer.
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