Most believe the bulk of those cuts will come at the expense of education and health care, since an estimated 78 percent of the present budget spending comes from those two categories.
That would be a logical assumption, and one that will no doubt prove accurate, however we hope the governor does not insist on using across-the-board 10 percent or 15 percent cuts. While this might seem a little easier in terms of cutting spending, there are some programs the state funds which could much more readily absorb a 15 percent decrease in spending, while others might be in serious jeopardy with such cuts. And, we suspect, there are programs which could be and should be eliminated entirely, rather than instituting a 15 percent cut.
And that is where we hope the governor and the General Assembly will work, determining what really is needed and what is simply a want, and eliminating all of those wants, before cutting into more vital agencies such as Medicaid or education. Do not base the starting discussions on what a given program received this year or last year, but start those discussions on whether a given program even needs to exist. If it does not, then it should go. If it does need to exist, then put in adequate funding levels in a first draft of the budget. We suspect if those programs that aren’t really needed were first eliminated, cuts to others would be considerably less.
One thing we do believe is encouraging is the fact that Perdue is open to giving more flexibility to local school systems on how state money is spent. Local school board members are elected by people in their community, and they best know of the needs in their school system and how to get the most for their money. That’s a philosophy which might not be true in all communities, but we suspect it would be in most. We’re certain it would be true in both Mount Airy and Surry County, and if the leaders in Raleigh are determined to cut education spending, we at least hope they do give our local boards considerably more flexibility on how the rest of the state money is used.