North Carolina is facing a budget deficit of almost $500 million only halfway through the fiscal year.
UNC-Chapel Hill political science Professor Thad Beyle said Easley's term will be different from previous governors because he is starting out with a deficit.
Beyle said Easley must deal with the state's fiscal woes in the first six months or it could get worse.
Rep. Ruth Easterling, D-Mecklenburg and co-chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee in the N.C. General Assembly, said increased health care expenses largely contributed to the deficit.
"Look at the percentages in the budget -- education takes about 66 percent and health and human services takes 17 percent," she said. "You add it up and the other organizations get what's left."
Easterling cited health care services such as the Children's Health Insurance Program as contributors to the budget deficit.
"We thought the program would help 71,000 kids, but we underestimated," she said. "We reached that number only halfway into the year, which increased expenses."
The UNC system faces potential problems from the budget deficit as well. Jeff Davies, UNC-system vice president for finance, said the projected amount of money received by the system during the next few years is an important concern.
"(The system) receives a large state appropriations grant each year," Davies said. "But I don't know whether there will be budget cuts for the system.