RALEIGH – Tough times call for tough decisions – that was Gov. Bev Perdue’s message to the General Assembly and the State of North Carolina in a nutshell as she addressed lawmakers March 9, using the word “tough” more than half a dozen times in 25 minutes.
North Carolina’s first female governor said the budget she will present next week will reduce state programs and services that she knows have been effective, but which the state simply cannot afford as it faces a $3 billion shortfall.
“Truth in budgeting time is here, now, today,” she told lawmakers promising that “everything is on the table.”
Still, she said the state’s leaders should not “eat our seed corn” but should protect education from the budget ax, promising to increase the state’s per pupil spending even during perilous economic times.
Gov. Perdue said in her travels she has seen the “uncertainly and worry in the eyes of North Carolinians.”
“Families all around the state are anxious,” she said. “Many have lost their jobs. Many have lost their homes.”
She said it was elected officials’ moral responsibility to help citizens restart their lives and that North Carolina should work to secure every federal recovery dollar available so that people can get back to work by building bridges, paving roads and expanding and renovating infrastructure.
She also promised a higher level of transparency in government, such that with the click of a mouse citizens would be able to view how any state contract more than $10,000 is being handled.
Though many of her comments were general rallying cries for hard work and sacrifice, she gave a few specifics regarding her ideas for education, vowing to bring sanity to North Carolina’s “testing mania” by eliminating duplicative or unnecessary tests. She said a seamless pathway from pre-K to age 20 should be North Carolina’s education goal and that the state’s virtual public high school should level the playing field for students.
Finally, the governor called on “ordinary citizens in this citizens’ legislature,” to become “extraordinary leaders” as they perform their first and only duty – standing by North Carolina’s families.