We hear a lot about the need to return spending to pre-recession levels. And spending grew a lot just before the recession. The budget grew 8.9% in fiscal year 2006-07 and another 9.0% in fiscal year 2007-08.

What doesn’t get mentioned is that the Democratic General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue then had to cut state spending 10.8% in fiscal year 2009-10 and another 0.7% in fiscal year 2010-11 even as they raised taxes and took more federal money.

The current budget bill is not perfect, but its commitment to saving, refusal to take on open-ended commitments for new debt or Medicaid expansion, and relatively restrained growth in spending is the best insurance against devastating budget cuts or tax increases when the economy slows.