State government has become so large and complex that lawmakers cannot hope to keep up with every expenditure it makes, Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner said Tuesday.

Because of that, Gardner said, he will propose in a budget plan later this week that the legislature leave more of the day-to-day budget decisions to agency heads in the executive branch.``You can't have a part-time General Assembly micro-managing an enterprise as big as state government,' Gardner said. ``You could not do it in private business. It's too big, too complex.

``We ought to be letting the people who run those departments make more of the decisions about where to cut,' he said. ``Those are the people who know where the fat is. But certainly the people running those departments ought to be responsible to the legislature.'

Gardner said his budget plan will include no tax increases and no layoffs of state employees.

He said he would address the expected budget shortfall, which could reach $1 billion next year, by combining programs, shifting some responsibilities from the state to local governments and cutting back unnecessary spending.

``It comes out to a question of priorities,' he said, indicating that education and the anti-drug programs of the Drug Cabinet will be his top priorities.

``We have to understand that we're not Santa Claus,' Gardner said. ``We have an obligation to provide basic services - education, law enforcement and so on - but we can't provide a lot of frills.'

Gardner's plan would be at odds with the budget proposed by Gov. Jim Martin. Martin recommended the state give local governments the option to raise sales taxes by a half-cent to replace $242.5 million in local government rebates that the state would keep.

Redistricting hearings\

The Senate Redistricting Committee has revised its schedule of public hearings to take comments on redistricting for congressional and legislative elections.

A hearing originally scheduled March 7 in Asheville has been changed to March 14 at 7 p.m. in the Buncombe County Courthouse. A hearing also has been scheduled for 3 p.m. March 11 at the Agriculture Building in Wilson.

Legislators this year must draw up new election districts for the 170 members of the General Assembly and for 12 congressional seats.

Second primaries would die\

Sen. Ralph Hunt, D-Durham, has filed a bill that would abolish second primaries in North Carolina.

Hunt sponsored a similar bill in 1989 that led to a compromise in the rules for runoff primaries. That compromise allowed a candidate to win a primary if that person was the top vote-getter and had more than 40 percent of the vote. The old rules required a winner to have more than 50 percent of the vote.

Graham oversees banks\

The Senate has confirmed the appointment of William T. Graham for a second four-year term as the state Banking Commissioner.

Graham, a Winston-Salem lawyer, was first appointed by Gov. Jim Martin in 1987.

The appointment must still be confirmed by the House.

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