Earlier this week I took a jab at Thom Tillis on Father's Day in honor of all the dads in North Carolina who are struggling under failed Republican policies pushed through the NCGA by Tillis and the Republican leadership. While it was a fun post to write, it really didn't shine a bright enough light on the problems dads (and moms) face in North Carolina. Allow me to close out Thom Tillis Day by correcting that.
The following are just a few of the many ways that Thom Tillis has shown a lack of respect for the citizens of this state and the ways that he has hurt North Carolina citizens and families by attacking them where and when they are most vulnerable.
Education Budget & Disrespect of Teachers
From the moment Republicans took control of the North Carolina legislature, Thom Tillis has attacked educators and the Department of Public Instruction. He pushed one piece of legislation that cut the staff at the DPI by one third and another that would prevent the state from collecting dues for the North Carolina Association of Educators.
At the NCGOP convention in June 2011 he said:
"They (speaking specifically about NCAE) don't care about kids. They don't care about classrooms. They care only about their jobs and pensions."
He has gone so far as to blame the teachers for his attacks on their paychecks and budget cuts to the classroom.
Divide and Conquer
Speaking at Mars Hill College in 2011 Thom Tillis advocated manipulating the elderly and disabled on public assistance into looking down on others in need of public assistance. It is hard enough for moms and dads to hold their families together when they are dealing with the stigma of living in poverty, they don't need Thom Tillis making their lives even harder.
"What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance," he told the crowd.
"We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition, that needs help, and we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government, and say, at some point, you’re on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we’re not going to take care of you."
Tillis gave hefty raises to staff & lied about it
When he first took over the Speaker's office, Tillis said he would set an example by cutting payroll. Instead, he hired a larger staff than his predecessor and paid them higher salaries. When he was called on it, he lied.
According to the News & Observer:
Tillis' general counsel Jason Kay got a 27 percent raise, from $110,000 a year to $140,000.
Chief of staff Charles Thomas got a 25 percent, $30,000-a-year increase, from $120,000 to $150,000.
Policy advisers Christopher Hayes and Amy Hobbs received $12,000 raises, both going from salaries of $70,000 to $82,000 a year. Kay, Hayes and Hobbs are all new hires who joined the state payroll for the first time in January. Thomas is a former state House member from Asheville.
In all, Tillis gave raises to seven members of the 14-person staff he had before April. He hired an additional employee in May, paying him $70,000 annually.
Follow the link above to read more about the word games Tillis played to try to cover up his lie.
Tillis gave bonuses to staff after sexual improprieties with lobbyists
Less than a year after being awarded hefty raises, Thom Tillis' Chief of Staff Charles Thomas and policy advisor Amy Hobbs both resigned after being caught having affairs with married lobbyists. After resigning in disgrace, each was given a hefty bonus at taxpayer expense. WRAL offers more of the story.
State mandated discrimination through vanity legislation
Thom Tillis and the Republicans in the North Carolina legislature pushed an amendment to North Carolina's constitution that would make it illegal for same sex couples to marry. This discriminatory amendment was completely unnecessary since there was already a law on the books in NC preventing same sex marriage.
Why would Thom Tillis waste millions of taxpayer dollars to pass legislation to ban something that was already against the law? Why would Thom Tillis waste millions of taxpayer dollars to pass legislation that cannot stand the test of time? I think the better question is, why would Thom Tillis pass legislation that mandated discrimination against other human beings and that would harm children and put families at risk?
Losers & Whiners
In a December 2013 interview with Politico, Tillis referred to those who disagree with his agenda as losers.
“I think for the most part, what I see from the folks who are opposing our agenda is whining coming from losers,”
Whining coming from losers? Really? I don't know about you, but I expect men and women elected to public office to conduct themselves in a more dignified manner than a school yard bully.
Tillis blocked Medicaid Expansion
After giving hefty raises to staff and lining the pockets of his rich friends, Thom Tillis blocked Medicaid expansion, putting 500,000 families that were already in fragile financial circumstances, at even greater risk by blocking their access to healthcare.
He took full credit for this mean-hearted move in a radio ad during this year's primary.
“Thom Tillis has a proven record of fighting against Obamacare. Tillis stopped Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion cold. It’s not happening in North Carolina, and it’s because of Thom Tillis.”
Eliminated benefits for long-term unemployed
Tillis once again attacked those in fragile financial circumstances in North Carolina when his cuts to state benefits caused the elimination of federally funded benefits for as many as 170,000 long-term unemployed workers.
By cutting state benefits — which reduced maximum weekly benefits by $185 and limited the maximum number of weeks workers could draw benefits to 20 weeks — North Carolina fell below minimum federal standards for unemployment insurance. As a result, the long-term unemployed in the state became ineligible to receive federally funded extended benefits available to unemployed workers in other states who have been jobless for more than 26 weeks.
To read more about just how wrong Tillis got it on this, visit NC Policy Watch.
College Credential Padding
In March 2014 Tillis was caught lying about his college credentials. Instead of admitting he obtained his college degree through a distance learning program at University of Maryland University College, Tillis claimed the University of Maryland, College Park as his alma mater.
His spokesperson tried to blame it on staffers, but WRAL discovered Tillis had been telling this particular lie since 2006 and is on tape from a 2012 radio interview making the claim.
The discrepancies about Tillis’ biography on his websites first arose Thursday in a report from Talking Points Memo, an online publication that focuses on politics. Tillis’ campaign said the descriptions were quickly corrected.
But the instances in which Tillis is listed as a graduate of the University of Maryland, instead of UMUC, are widespread. Since his first run for the state legislature in 2006, media reports included the description and Tillis’ campaign did not clarify the misconceptions.
Distance learning programs in 1997 might not have been what they are today, but why the lie? I doubt anyone would have brought it up if he hadn't lied about it.
Tillis' tax breaks to the wealthy help create a $445 million revenue shortfall
By law, North Carolina's legislature must pass a balanced budget. Thom Tillis balanced the budget on the backs of North Carolina's middle and working class families. Unfortunately, he gave so many breaks to the wealthy that our state is facing a $445 million shortfall in revenues with no ready answer for how we will make it up.
The news means more money will have to be siphoned off to fill this year's hole beyond a predicted Medicaid shortfall of as much as $140 million, as well as requiring more revenue or reduced spending in next year's plan. The General Assembly convenes May 14 for its budget-adjustment work session.
Apparently, money management is not a strength among Republicans. It appears that as long as they line the coffers of their corporate buddies and pad the wallets of their rich friends, Republicans don't really care about a balanced budget that works for the people of North Carolina. It's all just a game to them.
Thom Tillis 14
As Moral Monday protests geared back up for the short session this spring, Thom Tillis had an opportunity to meet and talk with 14 protestors staging a sit-in in his office. Instead, he ignored these North Carolina citizens and they were arrested in the early morning hours. In contrast, Senator Phil Berger met with protestors in his office the following week for nearly two hours. That protest met with no arrests.
As if trying to divide and conquer North Carolinians on public assistance isn't bad enough, Thom Tillis has shown just how he thinks about African Americans and Hispanics.
"The traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable. It's not growing. The African American population is roughly growing but the Hispanic population and the other immigrant populations are growing in significant numbers. We've got to resonate with those future voters."
For those having a hard time parsing Tillis' words, "traditional population" is referring to whites. His communications director tried to explain it away saying Thom meant those people who had lived in North Carolina a while, but Washington Posts's The Fix blog pretty much shot that explanation down.
Given Tillis' actual words, that explanation doesn't make much sense. If "traditional" means "people who have been in North Carolina a long time," of course that population isn't growing. Without readily available time machines, it's hard to create new long-term residents of a state.
Divide and conquer, right Thom?
New budget created with fantasy revenues
There is still plenty of time for Thom Tillis to wreak havoc on North Carolina's citizens, but our final entry for today is Thom Tillis and NC House Republicans use of phony revenues to produce a balanced budget. Sure, it still has to go to conference where it gets hashed out, but Tillis didn't even bother to send a viable budget.
So the folks at the lottery told the folks in the Jones Street House of Pain that they were nearly $50 million short, but the NC GOP, presumably following orders not to do anything to make Tillis look bad, rammed through their budget anyway, knowing it was a great big load of crap.
Thom Tillis is a selfish, mean-hearted, petty man who looks down on the rest of us. He struts and preens, lies about his credentials, gives bonuses to employees caught having sex with lobbyists and cannot produce a viable budget. The one we are operating under now has an almost $450 million revenue shortfall and the new budget under consideration is balanced with pretend money. It is long-past time we retire Thom Tillis.