Tillis at town hall: Voter ID still alive, immigrants not all bad

N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis has been traveling the state holding town halls to talk about the $19.7 billion state budget the new GOP-led legislature passed this year (which is the likely culprit behind the 10.1 percent unemployment rate N.C. got upgraded to today ).

We were at a town hall he held Thursday in Kinston, and here’s some snippets of what Tillis, a Cornelius Republican serving his third term, had to say.

(His unedited comments can he heard here.)


On the agreement Republicans had with the five House Democrats who overrode Gov. Bev Perdue’s budget veto:

“’Give me something to get done, and we will get it done, you’ll have our word. And if we do that, do we have your word that you’ll stick with us all the way through a veto override.’ [Tillis’ agreement with the five Democrats.]

So they went down the street and the governor, more or less she went back on what she originally informed them, but they came down the street and they lived up to their words.

So, Jim Crawford, William Brisson, Dewey Hill, Tim Spear, Bill Owens — these are folks that are personal friends of the governor. These are people who are dedicated Democrats. They support Democrat causes more than Republican causes, that’s why I guess they’re registered Democrats. But at the end of the day, what I admire the most about them is that they’re politicians that are men of their word. And they lived up to it.”


On the partisan bickering in Raleigh this session (exaggerated in Tillis’ view):

“The best evidence of that is that over 400 bills went out of the House. The governor only vetoed 15 and of those, half of those vetoes have been overridden. The only way that vetoes can be overridden is with the support of the Democrats.  So, with only about six or seven bills being vetoed of the bunch, if it’s really partisan, if it’s really right wing, if it’s really all these things the press likes to bring up — is the governor in cahoots with us? Otherwise you’d think she would have vetoed 400 bills. And you think we’d be in gridlock.”

Note: Perdue issued many more vetoes than any other North Carolina governor in recent history. Only 10 vetoes were issued by N.C. governors from 1997 to 2001, according to the N.C. Legislative Library. Perdue issued 15 in 2011.


On the Voter ID bill:

“The governor vetoed it, we brought it up for a veto override and we lost.

They thought it was over at that point. Doesn’t happen that way in our House. We actually did a motion to reconsider and we put it on unfinished business.

We will either come up with a compromise bill or I will have every member who is against voter ID vote for that vote against bill four or five times before the election. Then they’ll have to answer to the three-quarters of citizens who some form of voter ID. Nest year in the general election, we’re going to make them accountable for it.

I would expect at least three or four more votes on the baseline (legislation). But we’re opening up to a compromise….We’ll take it down the political path they chose to force us down.”


When asked if North Carolina laws allows for the recall of a governor:

“No, but there are those of us that wish they did.”


On illegal immigration:

“We obviously have a number of illegal aliens, undocumented immigrants, whatever you prefer to call them to feel good, in this country. A lot of them are good people…..

If you’re really mad about illegal immigration, I’m the wrong guy to get out lathered up. It’s a lot more complicated than that.

Have you seen the news reports lately out of Mexico? Like decapitated people being hung off of overpasses and thousands of people dead. You know what, if I was a father of a family and I thought I could get out of that place , I would probably try to get out of the place.

There are good people here, but they got here the wrong way. Part of what we need to do is to have a certain amount of respect for people who are in a bad place.”


An earlier version of this post misstated Tillis’ home city. He is from Cornelius, in Mecklenburg County.

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