RALEIGH — As lawmakers return to Raleigh, legislative Democrats say the state’s Attorney General is considering laying off 100 staffers, mostly lawyers, after the state budget cut the department by $10 million. The Attorney General has an $88 million dollar budget and employs more than 400 lawyers and others in the legal services department.
Democrats say the millions in personal income tax cuts included in the budget have taken money from the justice system and puts public safety at risk. In a press release Monday, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) said denying the state income tax cuts to households earning more than $200,000 would pay to restore the Attorney General’s funding and prevent the layoffs in the administrative sections of the department.
“This move by Republicans goes beyond retaliation against our attorney general,” said Blue. “This blocks access to the largest consumer advocacy group available to families. This puts people’s safety and well-being at risk as more criminals slip through another underfunded system,” said Blue.
However, Republicans say the cut was part of a multiyear strategy to shrink the size of government and reduce overall state spending. They say the state budget was careful to direct the cuts into administration, not the crime lab, training or other services, and that the budget included funds for more deputy clerks of court and assistant district attorneys to help with workload downstream in the judiciary.
Republicans also pointed out the budget provides more than $4 million for law enforcement training for N.C. officers and funds across-the-board raises for all state employees, including the Attorney General, and experienced-based step increases for highway patrol officers.