Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gov. Perdue Releases Budget

How do you close a $3.4 billion dollar budget shortfall? That depends on who you ask. Governor Beverly Perdue and Senate democrats have their ideas, and their critics. Perdue has proposed giving state institutions less money to pay the salaries of their employees on the premise that a portion of this money never gets paid out. The "lapsed salaries," as the extra $$ is referred to, state agencies and universities use for paying temporary workers and over-time. They claim depriving them of the money would result in cuts elsewhere to make up the difference.

All state institutions will take a hit from the budget cuts with the exception of public education. One million has also been allotted for healthcare program HCBG and there is a $150 "caregiver tax credit." In addition to $3 billion on government stimulus, eliminating lapsed salaries, Perdue has proposed increasing taxes on tobacco and alcohol. Critics argue this places an unfair burden on poorer families where such products constitute a higher portion of their spending.

Unfortunately, healthcare programs used by those who live with MS will see a decrease in funding. Notably, modification physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy benefits. Budget architects claim the savings generated from these cuts alone could be 14% of projected expenditures. In order to "reduce over utilization of services," the benefits of personal care services will be similarly slashed; the government claims 15% of projected expenditures can be saved.

To the state government's credit balancing a $3.4 billion deficit is probably impossible. We didn't get here over night. It is a crisis decades in the making.
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