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NC lawmakers in capital with budget top priority


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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Here are some numbers

they need to be thinking about:

The CURRENT State budget has a $391,000,000 projected shortfall for the General Fund.

The CURRENT State Budget has $250,000,000 in unfunded Medicaid Expensitures caused by mandated health care provisions.

Last Year's budget session overlooked both of these.

The revenue for 2010 to 2011 will be down $788,000,000 due to various one year item adjustments ending. How will they make that up?

Revenue for 2011 to 2012 will be down $1,620,000,000 (that's billion by the way) when Federal stimulus programs end.

Revenue for 2011 to 2012 will be down an additional $1,300,000,000 (again that's billion) when temporary sales, corporate, and personal income tax increases -- from last year's budget session -- expire.

Add it up; that's almost 3 Billion Dollars dispappearing from the current revenue stream.

But wait, there's more:

The State Retirement System, for the first time in history, is not fully funded. Guess some state employees will have to postpone retirement.

The State Health Care Plan -- the one that ran out of money about a year ago and which local physicians and hospitals would not accept, will see health care costs increase by $2,000,000,000 (again that's Billion) due to mandated health care changes. That does not even consider the impact of Obamacare.

UNFUNDED Retiree health care benefits equal $28,200,000,000 (Again that's Billion). Those legislators continue to ignore this little time bomb. Realistically, the State needs to budget $2,700,000,000 (Again that's Biliion) ANNUALLY to cover this little gem.

FOLKS, these are just the tip of the iceberg.

One chowder head, this week, proposed taking $100,000,000 -- that's one hundred million dollars -- from the Education Lottery fund to help balance the budget. And he would leave it to the Counties to repay.

Remember all of those "withdrawls" from the Lottery Fund by former Governor Easley and her Highness. They were to be paid back. Anyone seen that take place yet?

Can anyone say Financial Armageddon? There was a time, not that long ago, when the state had a surplus of $500,000,000. This state now owes nearly $7,000,000,000 (Again that's Billion). Debt service -- interest only -- on the money this state owes to just the United States government will begin hitting next year. Try $153,000,000 for that little number.

Yet these chowder heads think they can spend and spend and tax and tax.

If these numbers don't get your attention, you must have your head in the sand. And this is just on the state level.

Here's how concerned other jurisdictions are.

Wake County has stopped paying for pine boxes to be used by indigent families to bury their departed family members. Think about that. Some families in Wake County are so financially bereft, they have to turn to the county for a pine box in which to place the final remains of their loved ones. And now the County has stopped the program.

Oh, they also shut down a program which would give indigent families small grants of money to pay a utility or water bill if their utilities were in danger of being shut down.

They also shut down the program which would give small grants of money to families in danger of being evicted when they did not have the money to pay rent.

BOTH programs were shut down this week.

Maybe their proximity to Raleigh makes them more aware of the challenges facing the state's budget.

But this is a crisis and we need effective leadership which understands you don't spend money you don't have.

No doubt her Majesty is planning another out of country trip. Summer season will soon be here.

One question, for the record -- why does the State need 70 Aircraft? And that number does not include aircraft used by the Air National Gaurd or any County Sheriff or Police agency.