Friday, May 30, 2008

Just a reminder to check out Political Connections this weekend.

The entire show is an interview with Gov. Easley. It's pretty interesting and covers a wide range of topics. It airs on News 14 Carolina tonight at 6pm and Sunday morning at 11am. It should wind up on the website at as well.

We talk about the budget, controversial issues, his style of governing, why he prefers his work over fundraising, his future, etc. etc. etc.

Check it out if you get a chance. I aired a story on part of the interview today and will post the script below.

In the meantime, I'm counting down the hours to a 5 day vacation so have a great weekend and I'll be back next Thursday. Happy House Budgeting!

RALEIGH -- A big budget battle is shaping up between the governor's office and the legislature.

The State House will likely vote on their version of the budget next week. Early indications are that it will look much different than the governor's budget.

Senior Political Reporter Tim Boyum sat down with the governor this week. When Governor Easley unveiled his budget three weeks ago, it included a 20-cent cigarette tax hike and a four cent increase on alcohol.

Next week the House will unveil its version of the budget. It will not include those tax proposals.

"I don't care if they pass them or not," Gov. Easley said. "I'm just looking for a means to an end."

That end is an expensive mental health reform package and a seven percent teacher pay raise.

"We have to get teachers to the national average," Easley added. "We said we were going to do it in 2005, we raised them five percent, eight percent, five percent over the last three years and we're looking at 6.9-percent short this year."

The House budget will include a three percent raise instead of seven percent.

"Is that something you would send the budget back if they didn't?" Boyum asked.

"You know, I would want to look at the entire budget before I ever said that I would look at that," Gov. Easley said. "The thing for me to do now is work with the legislators and try to help them get there."

But lawmakers want lower teacher pay to help give state employees a 2.75-percent raise compared to Easley's 1.5-percent.

Easley says state employees deserve a large raise but he promised teachers they would get to the national average by the end of the year.

"If you say you're going to do it you should do it," Easley added. "That's what we teach kids and we can start by paying their teachers so that's why I started with the sin taxes.

It's a pay battle that will play out over the next month. After the House budget, the Senate must come up with their version then all three sides must compromise on a final budget by June 30th.

To see the entire interview watch Political Connections. It airs Friday nights at 6:00 and Sunday mornings at 11:00.

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