The Tarheel State finally has an approved state budget, which Governor Mike Easley signed Saturday.
The 17.2 billion dollar two-year budget becomes law a month-and-a-half after the start of the fiscal year. Lawmakers had to settle their differences on a number of items including a cigarette tax and state employee raises. The house approved the budget on Wednesday and the senate followed suit on Thursday. Even after that, Easley took his time to review the budget before he signed it Saturday. The budget will generate more than 600 million dollars, thanks to new or extended taxes. It will also raise state worker pay by two percent or 850-dollars per year, whichever is higher.