RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue says her decision not to seek re-election will free her up to take her proposal to raise the sales tax for education directly to citizens, without worry her stance could be used against her in a campaign.

This is not politics. This is the future of North Carolina, and I'm going to go to every town, every county, Perdue said shortly after her announcement that she wouldn't run. I'm going to take this on the road and get right in people's faces.

But the road still ends at the Legislative Building.

That's where Republican lawmakers in charge during her final year in office were persuaded that following through in 2011 on a campaign pledge to let old temporary taxes expire helped rein in state spending. Even if her idea receives strong public support, Perdue will be hard-pressed to get GOP legislative leaders to support a new temporary sales tax.

While the General Assembly won't start dealing with the budget until mid-May, signs already point to another stalemate. Republicans won't agree to new taxes and will win if they can bring along enough Democrats, like they did last year.

If she wants to continue to push in that direction, that's one of the things we're not going to be able to reach any agreement on, said Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. If the question is simply are you going to raise the (sales) tax, the answer is going to be no, and it doesn't make a difference where the money is going to go.

Perdue's one-term status will bring a new wrinkle to an already icy relationship between her and Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg. The relationship began with optimism in early 2011 but disintegrated into distrust and political trash-talking.

Perdue issued a record 16 vetoes last year and the Legislature cancelled seven of them, including the state budget, which let a temporary penny sales tax increase approved in 2009 by Democrats and Perdue expire on time. The GOP secured votes of five House Democrats to override the veto. The Republican majority is already veto-proof in the Senate.

Now that Perdue is on her way out, she could hold less sway over more Democrats who won't feel beholden to her and willing to back more Republican proposals. Some Democrats may feel uncomfortable in an election year to stand with the governor on increasing the sales tax temporarily by three-quarters of a penny.

I don't care what you say, she's a lame duck, said Democratic consultant Gary Pearce, who used to work for four-term Gov. Jim Hunt. She still has veto power, but there's no fear.

But with about a dozen Democratic legislators already announcing they won't seek re-election, including three of the House Democrats who voted for the budget, those on the way out may worry less about whether supporting higher taxes goes against public opinion.

House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, who announced this past week that he wouldn't seek re-election to his seat, said he didn't think Perdue's departure would dramatically affect unity in the chamber's Democratic caucus. Hackney accused Republicans of often acting only to make Perdue look bad.

They despise her so much that I don't know what they're going to do with themselves now, he said. Republicans say they disagree with Perdue on policy.

Room for compromise on the budget and taxes appears narrow.

In an interview Jan. 25, the day before she announced her decision against a second term, Perdue said she might reconsider her call for higher taxes if there's a significant surplus in tax collections brought on by an improving economy. But she was skeptical there would be enough given other demands -- a Medicaid shortfall and underfunded court system among them.

Still, she added, I'm willing to look at the revenue that's there.

Republicans such as Berger say they would like to work with Perdue by boosting education spending in certain areas without raising taxes to do it. Berger points to additional resources for early primary grades and an emphasis on ensuring students are reading at grade level before reaching fourth grade.

I do not see taxes going up. But I do think there is a quite a bit of room for the governor and the Republicans to come together on a number of issues on the budget, said Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, one of the chamber's chief budget writers.

Republicans may have some incentive to work with Perdue as the GOP has faced criticism from Democrats and education leaders that has filtered down to the electorate. Democrats have blamed thousands of local school and University of North Carolina system layoffs on Republicans, who in turn have given many reasons why those accusations are misguided.

Rep. Jim Crawford, D-Granville, one of the Democrats who voted to override Perdue's budget veto last year and now a budget-writer, predicted Perdue will find herself in a difficult position like last year.

The Democrats are still going to back her. We're still going to do what we can to continue her agenda, Crawford said, but I don't see how anything's going to really change in the short session. I don't see the dynamics changing much at all.

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