It won’t take long before Republican leadership in both North Carolina House and Senate reveal their business acumen. The new Legislature begins work on Wednesday, Jan. 26 and is immediately tasked with balancing a budget that touts a potential $3.5 billion gap.
State agencies recently submitted proposals to Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue suggesting where they believe cuts as much as 15 percent in current spending levels should be made. One such agency that isn’t singing budget cut praises is the N.C. Aquariums Division, a branch of the state department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The Wilmington Star News reports, “The state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources had to submit proposed budget cuts to the governor’s office, and the N.C. Aquariums division of that department planned to cut about $1.4 million in state appropriations it receives to operate the aquariums. That means the admissions receipts, which funnel into a special fund for capital projects, including constructing the three aquarium piers, would be transferred to pay aquariums’ staff salaries and other operating costs.”
Any thought provoking planning throughout rough economic times might not provoke a comment such as the one quipped by David Griffin, director of N.C. Aquariums division: “We will not have any admission money to put toward other things.”
“Other things” such as funding $15 million fishing piers, which do not create jobs, seems to not be a top priority.
Speaking on future funding for both Carolina Beach and Emerald Isle piers, entering Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) told the Star News, “I certainly think we’re going to be looking at a lot of places to find the dollars necessary to fund those priority obligations we’ve got,” he said.
“The prospect of those projects having the funding necessary to go forward in the short term is not very bright,” Berger added.