"Zero-Based" Budgeting Experiment Under Way At General Assembly

When a successful business hits a rough patch, executives often ask their employees to look for ways to cut costs.

Sometimes, workers are even asked to justify the existence of their departments.

That's rare within North Carolina state government. Critics complain a program often gets a free ride once it receives budget funding for two consecutive years.

But after prodding for years, mainly by Republicans, the Democrats who control both the state House and Senate are prepared to try what's called "zero-based budgeting."

The concept forces a state agency to justify all of the funding for one of its program every budget year.

Legislative leaders say the new budget process could save the state millions of dollars by cutting outdated or redundant spending within certain programs.