Perdue’s mixed bag of a budget
Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
By Chris Fitzsimon
There were few surprises in the budget Governor Beverly Perdue released this week, no tax increases, a few important new jobs initiatives, more painful cuts to education and human services.
The budget is a reflection of the perceived political climate in which elected officials seem scared to even discuss new revenues, even if it means cutting dental services and eye care for people on Medicaid or asking schools to find more cuts on top on last year's reductions that resulted in teacher layoffs and larger classes.
Perdue also largely declined to take on sacred cows to avoid the cuts. She didn't mention ending the in-state tuition subsidy for out of state athletes or diverting some of the state's annual payment from the national tobacco settlement.
Despite that flawed and limiting framework, she deserves credit for creative thinking in how she allocated the money she wants to spend.
One notable example is her Back to Work Incentive Fund that would provide $1000 per job subsidy to small businesses that add jobs by hiring workers who have been unemployed for more than 60 days.
Perdue also makes some important investments in repairing the gaping holes in safety net like restoring $40 million that was cut from mental health services in the final hours of last session's budget negotiations. That only gets the system back to less than zero, the underfunded state it was in before the cuts, but at least it's not going further backwards.
Perdue also allocates $14 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program that provides lifesaving medication for people infected with HIV who can't afford it. The program stopped taking new applicants earlier this year and now has a waiting list of more than 300 people.
Read more at NC Policy Watch.