Is it $3.2 billion? $3.5?
The budget hole state politicians will look to fill next year may be bigger than commonly reported.
A new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures on budget conditions in the 50 states and Puerto Rico puts the hole North Carolina is facing at more than $3.8 billion, or 20.3 percent of current budget. NCSL collected information for its report from legislative fiscal offices.
In North Carolina, you start at $3.2 billion, which comes from the loss of federal stimulus money and the expiration of temporary state sales taxes and income tax surcharges. Here's the rest:
In addition to the previously reported gap estimate of $3.2 billion is an increase of $300 million for the state retirement system, $181.6 million for the health plan for state employees and retirees and $164 million of education enrollment growth ($34 million for community colleges, $55 million for the UNC system and $75 million for K-12 education). Medicaid enrollment growth in FY 2012 is unknown at this time. It should be noted that the general fund base is FY 2011 and does not include ARRA funds.
Gov. Bev Perdue is going to talk about government reorganization tomorrow, offering something of a nonspecific preview to the budget she'll present early next year.