By GARY D. ROBERTSON, Associated Press
RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — Charlie Perusse, who served as North Carolina’s state budget director for three Democratic governors, including current Gov. Roy Cooper, is retiring this fall, Cooper announced Monday.
Succeeding Perusse as budget director is Kristin Walker, the current chief deputy in the Office of Budget and State Management.
Perusse, who will retire Nov. 1, served in state government for 31 years, with stints as acting budget director at the end of Governor Mike Easley’s term in 2008 and for two years in as Governor Beverly Perdue’s permanent budget director until early 2011. He then became director of system operations for the University of North Carolina.
Perusse returned as manager in early 2017 at Cooper’s request. As director, he executed what is now a $27.9 billion annual state budget and other spending guidelines approved by the legislature. He also worked with governors on preparing their spending recommendations to lawmakers.
“I am deeply grateful for Charlie’s years of service to our state,” Cooper said in a press release. “He has worked tirelessly to help North Carolinians and has been instrumental in developing fiscally responsible budget proposals that invest in the education, health care and daily needs of North Carolinians. “
Perusse has been forced to react to ever-changing incomes — from large shortfalls in 2009 during the Great Recession and in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, to multibillion-dollar surpluses in 2021 and 2022.
There have also recently been massive influxes of federal dollars from pandemic relief and US bailout laws approved by Congress. Perusse also had responsibility for carrying out government spending without a conventional budget when a 2019 negotiation impasse between Cooper and Republican legislative leaders was never fully resolved.
The budget director also performs other roles, such as serving on the state debt affordability review committee and a panel that awards economic incentives to businesses seeking to build in the state.
Walker, who will be North Carolina’s first female budget director, became a deputy in 2017. She worked for 10 years as a budget analyst on the General Assembly’s nonpartisan staff, with budget development as her job. main. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.
“I know the finances of the state are in good hands with Kristin Walker and I look forward to continuing to work with her to responsibly manage the state budget and taxpayer dollars,” added Cooper.
Perusse, known for his laid-back style, also lobbied the legislature on the spending priorities of the chief executives under whom he served.
Senate Leader Phil Berger praised Perusse in a brief interview, saying his staff could speak candidly to him about spending issues. Things wouldn’t always be resolved, Berger added, but “you can’t get mad at him even if you don’t agree with him.”
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