Infographic written by Travis Fain, contributing reporter, and illustrated by Stacy Gray, contributing illustrator.

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From the lines at the grocery store to the halls of the General Assembly, people are talking about the state budget.

It’s easy to see why. Money means services and political power. Elected officials get reelected or fall by the wayside, school systems thrive or struggle, health services grow or disappear, all due – at least in part – to the budget.

But how does it happen? At Carolina Public Press, we want to breakdown and demystify the process, which can sometimes seem daunting to those of us living outside of Raleigh.

Here’s a start:

  • The problem: The budget calls for $2.4 billion more than we have to fund state services – things like schools, the courts, transportation, health services.
  • $2.4 billion is big: String together 2.4 billion dollar bills lengthwise. They would circle the Earth about 9 1/3 times.
  • The year: Our next fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2012. That’s really soon.
  • It’s the law: North Carolina is required to balance its budget.
  • Who makes the decision: Gov. Bev Perdue and North Carolina House and Senate representatives all have ideas on what the state should and shouldn’t pay for and how to raise the money to do it. The debate can be intense because the final plan impacts the flow of money into every county, city and community in the state.

Click through our slideshow (above), which details the process.

Here’s the full view, available to you for downloading and printing. [PDF]

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Angie Newsome was the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at

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