If you want to know where we are in the debate about how to address the state’s $3.7 billion budget shortfall, check out the quotes from outgoing House Speaker Joe Hackney and incoming House Speaker Thom Tillis in the WTVD story about Wednesday’s legislative budget briefing.
First up is Hackney.
My greatest fear is that the policies of the incoming Republican legislature will decimate public education, public universities, and community colleges,” offered outgoing Speaker Joe Hackney. “Firing 15-20 thousand school teachers is not something I’m going to participate in.”
Then Tillis’ reaction.
“It’s great rhetoric, but who here runs to decimate the most important thing that we have in this state?” asked Tillis. Tillis is quick to point out other ways to help make up the three and a half billion dollars.”It’s not all about cutting. It’s about how can you do things that are stimulative” he said.
Tillis points to privatization, regulation reform, fewer mandates, one-time benefits…
Maybe it’s new, new math, but it is hard to see how privatization and regulation reform are going to immediately save the state almost $4 billion, putting aside the question about the policy implications of the ideas.
Tillis and his fellow Republicans at some point are going to have to admit that their choices are simple—raise new revenue or decimate education and human services. Those are really the only two options, no matter how hard they try to suggest otherwise.