Speaker of the House Thom Tillis participated in a conference call this morning on behalf of the Romney campaign. Peppered amid the obvious talking points and political grandstanding, was some genuine discussion from the Speaker on a myriad of NC-specific topics. One such statement was regarding the nearly $6 billion which North Carolina accepted as part of the federal stimulus program over the past few years. As Tillis said:
"I think the stimulus money caused a number of structure problems for us. It is one of the reasons we had a $3 billion deficit...because the leadership that preceded me choose to use that non-recurring money just to pay our bills," Tillis said. "So we had a structural deficit going into last year solely because of the stimulus money and the irresponsible decisions made by our irresponsible legislature. One half of our $3 billion deficit was because that money was gone."
This might almost be a (barely) defendable position, were it not that the House just passed a budget last week that plugged a huge budget gap with non-recurring funds!
So, to follow Tillis’ logic, to be fiscally responsible, the state should have refused $6 billion of federal grants when we sorely needed them, refused to raise taxes to fund essential programs, and somehow figured out how to fund the state in the interim. His plan to close that budget gap?
So far, no comment on that.