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Thursday January 20th

Perdue addresses education in State of the State

Discusses employment, new budget

N.C. Governor Bev Perdue focused on improving the education system in her second State of the State address — her first to the Republican-controlled legislature — on Monday night.

Perdue addressed education, employment and a new budget.

The state’s budget shortfall has dropped to $2.4 billion from $3.7 billion.

“North Carolina stands tonight with a balanced budget,” she said. “The budget I will deliver to you later this week is $2.2 billion less than the budget I received in 2009.”

Perdue also talked about cutting thousands of jobs and offering early retirement plans to state employees.

She said she would fund every state-supported teaching position in her new budget in order to improve education.

Voter approval ratings for Perdue have been low.

The polls in January found 32 percent of voters approved of Perdue’s job as governor, compared to 46 percent who disapproved, said Dustin Ingalls, assistant director of Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh-based service for tracking public opinion.

But the State of the State address is not expected to improve her public approval rating, he said.

“I don’t think enough voters will actually be watching,” Ingalls said.

The address will set the tone for policy making over the next six to eight months, said Ferrel Guillory, journalism professor at UNC.

“It’s an important moment for her to exert leadership,” he said.

“The state is at a critical moment. The recession of 2007 to 2009 has ended, but its effects linger on.”

The state has gone through two fiscal years of budget shortfalls, and this year will be no exception, Guillory said.

“We not only have a difficult budget situation but we also have a divided government,” he said.

The Republican-dominated N.C. General Assembly will be warring with Perdue throughout the session, especially on budget issues, said Hodding Carter, a UNC public policy professor.

“She needs to try to set the frame for what is going to be an intense debate about the allocation of resources,” he said.

“It’s going to be a fairly tough audience this year with the changes in the political balance.”

Perdue said she will work with the Republicans to achieve her goals of a better education system and more jobs in the state.

“I will not play partisan politics,” she said.

Anthony Dent, president of UNC College Republicans, was interested to see how Perdue handled the first Republican-led General assembly since 1898.

“This is going to kind of officially mark how she will handle the next two years in office,” he said.

Nathan Westmoreland, co-president of the UNC Young Democrats, said the new General Assembly agenda will be filled with diverse issues this year.

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