Friday, April 13, 2007
The main budget-writers in the General Assembly asked their fellow lawmakers to trim Gov. Mike Easley's proposed $20.1 billion budget by about 1 percent. The $210 million cut would reduce the governor's proposed $350 million expansion budget by 60 percent. Gov. Easley's recommended education budget would be reduced by $115 million, while the Health and Human Services proposal would lose $26 million. The latter is particularly troublesome in light of the disaster that has become mental health reform. Part of the reason for the proposed cuts is uncertainty over the state's tax structure. Gov. Easley and some members of the House favor keeping a half-cent sales tax and an income tax increase for the state's wealthiest individuals - both approved in 2001 and set to expire soon - on the books. The loss of revenue exceeds $300 million, but the impact on the average taxpayer is deminimus.