State lawmakers' top priority when the General Assembly reconvenes in a few weeks will be to cut expenses to offset the massive projected deficit, said Sen. Phil Berger, an Eden Republican and incoming President Pro Tem of the state senate.
"We will tighten our belts," he told several hundred people at an Economic Forecast Forum in Durham today sponsored by the N.C. Chamber and N.C. Bankers Association. "There will be no tax increases. There is no expectation of further bailouts. We need to match spending to revenue."
He didn't offer specifics on where cuts might happen. But his insistence on reducing spending has become a common theme as Gov. Bev Perdue and the legislature face a projected $3.7 billion budget deficit.
Unlike during past downturns, when lawmakers cut costs and increased taxes, and then resumed spending as the economy recovers, the incoming GOP leadership will look at ways to control spending even when economic growth returns, Berger said.
"It is critical we break the current cycle," he said. "The state is harmed by siphoning off private revenue to fund excessive state spending."