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NC lawmakers in capital with budget top priority

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina legislators are opening their annual session with the main order of business balancing state services with recession-hit tax collections.

Lawmakers formally return to work on Wednesday. Democrats calculate they'll have to find ways to close a gap between revenues and spending of between $800 million and $1 billion.

Senate Democrats say their budget will contain neither pay raises for teachers nor a bonus for all state employees to pay them back for last year's furlough.

Lawmakers also will consider campaign finance and ethics bills, and reforms to the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control system.

A coalition of conservative activists plan to march on the Legislative Building Wednesday to demand the state fight the federal health care reform law.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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