Republicans taking over the General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue have an onerous task entering 2011 -- eliminate a projected budget gap of $3.7 billion for the new fiscal year.
Perdue and GOP lawmakers have offered some suggestions but few details about how they intend to close that gap completely.
There's little doubt most of those reductions will have to be found in public education and health care, which comprise 78 percent of the state's current $19 billion budget.
Perdue said she would like the Legislature to give local school districts more flexibility and wants to protect cuts in early grades. GOP Sen. Neal Hunt said Republicans also intend to examine outdated programs.