Raleigh, N.C. — House and Senate Republicans turned out in force Tuesday to welcome Tim Phillips, national president of Americans for Prosperity, who is in the state this week to unveil a new "spending accountability" project.
Phillips praised House and Senate leaders and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory for turning the state toward limited government and free-market policies.
"This state's on the move, and it's just exciting to be a part of it," Phillips said.
The Koch-founded group has been a significant player in North Carolina politics over the past few cycles. McCrory budget chief Art Pope was one of the group's four national directors until December, when he resigned to take his cabinet position.
Phillips lauded efforts by legislative leaders to overhaul the state's tax and unemployment systems. He also praised the current push to block Medicaid expansion.
"Our only advice is to go big. Go bold. Be bold with these proposals," he said. "That's the right thing to do."
Phillips criticized Ohio Republicans for agreeing to accept a Medicaid expansion.
"They basically said, 'It's free money, out of Washington!' I tried to say, 'I know this is shocking, but there's no such thing as free money,'" Phillips said. "Taking that money ties the state more deeply into the rules and regulations and whims of Washington.
"We know the attacks are coming from the left," he said, adding that he expected "bitter partisan rhetoric" in the president's State of the Union address: "Class warfare and, I'm sure, demagoguing on the issue of Obamacare."
"But you can rest easy by knowing you're doing the right thing," Phillips told North Carolina Republicans. "Go bold with this because that's how you change a state. That's how you drive unemployment down."
"That's exactly what we're focused on accomplishing," said Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg."We've made some great strides in the first week or so.
"It's going to take some leadership. It's going to take some political will," Rucho added. "But that's what we were elected to do, and that's what we're going to deliver on as a promise."