The Budget & Tax Center, an arm of the progressive NC Justice Center, says in a new report that after state spending cuts and federal stimulus additions, the prospective state budget for 2011-12 as presented by Gov. Bev Perdue calls for about the same level of spending as the current budget. But the current budget took a big whack out of previous spending levels. Overall, the BTC finds, the current recession produced a 10 percent reduction in state services:

NC Budget & Tax Center estimates show that the net effect of the recession on the scope of state services is approximately 10 percent, meaning that even when accounting for additional federal assistance the state budget is now 10 percent smaller than it would need to be to bring services back to pre-recession levels.
Read the full report (attached, PDF).

Meanwhile, Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch — I think they’re just down the fall from the BTC staff, yes? — notes with revenue envy that the South Carolina legislature is poised to raise their cigarette tax to 50 cents a pack while ours in NC languishes at 44 cents. And the national average is $1.41 a pack.

He’s just sayin’.

In a longer piece, Schofield isn’t quite as forgiving as the BTC about Perdue’s budget: It’s a good start, he says, but it needs work.