When North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue, a Democrat serving her first term in office, presented her budget to the legislature last summer, counties were alarmed at the details of her plan. Gov. Perdue’s proposed budget would have shifted more than $100 million of unfunded liabilities to counties, according to estimates provided by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) last March.
Gov. Perdue’s budget proposal had no chance at becoming law, but as state officials continue to cope with budgetary constraints, some county leaders are wary of what may lie ahead. North Carolina, unlike the federal government, is required to submit and pass a balanced budget. As a consequence, when revenues plummet during recessions, state policymakers are forced to either raise taxes or make cuts, and sometimes do both. Counties and municipalities within North Carolina are forced to do the same. The GOP-led state legislature, thus far, has chosen to exclusively concentrate on scaling back state spending.