Tillis: "Divide and conquer" needy

Posted October 11, 2011

House Speaker Thom Tillis told a crowd in Madison County last Friday he'd be in favor of instituting drug testing for people on public assistance. Several other states have adopted similar requirements, most notably Florida, where cash benefit recipients must pay for their own drug tests. (The state will reimburse them if they pass.)

Speaking at Mars Hill College, Tillis said he sees such testing as a step toward entitlement reform. “By gosh, if we come back in 2013, I don’t know if we’ll go as far as Florida, but if you’re receiving government assistance, and every once in a while we want to do random drug tests, done on a fair basis, I think we should do it.”  The crowd applauded.

The Speaker said he isn't convinced that the state budget this year doesn't provide enough money for Health and Human Services. “That may be true,” he said, “Or the money’s not getting to the right people.”

"When you go in and you see a woman in a wheelchair – she’s from here, she’s from Asheville – who’s on the brink of losing her benefits, and you know that Health and Human Services is sending checks to a woman who has chosen to have three or four kids out of wedlock?"

"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_Madison House Speaker Thom Tillis on entitlement reform

"Won't happen next year," he added. "Wrong time, because it's gonna be politically charged. One of the reasons I may never run for another elected office is because some of these things may just get me railroaded out of town." 

Tillis also said in response to an audience question that he would support drug testing for all state employees, too.  

The video was initially posted on YouTube by MadisonCountyVideos. Watch the clip at right.   

Asked for comment or clarification, Tillis spokesman Jordan Shaw responded late today via email: 

"The Speaker simply meant that we need to protect individuals who, through no choice or fault of their own, depend on the state for benefits, and we need to ensure that those individuals are not negatively impacted by a small group of people who may abuse the system. It's about providing real help to those legitimately in need while protecting our programs from fraud, waste and abuse."



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  • driverkid3 Oct 16, 2011

    Why don't you folks that are opposed to testing welfare recipients also opposed to drug testing for employment? Don't the tests cost the same? Why are you opposed to this to beging with? You get all aggravated and start griping about your tax dollars going to welfare, then oppose testing that would eliminate a good handful of them.

  • socialjustice64 Oct 12, 2011

    Whatever happened to the idea of smaller government? Whatever happened to getting government regulations out of the way of people and business? Whatever happened to lowering the tax burden on the citizens of NC?

    Who is going to monitor and regulate this new GOVERNMENT program? Who is going to PAY for this new GOVERNMENT program?

    If you want to stop fraud and abuse of the system, fine - find ways to enforce that those who need the benefits actually receive the benefits. How does random drug testing stop the fraud and abuse examples listed here? How does it keep more tax dollars in my pocket?

  • lane828 Oct 12, 2011

    I think it's a GREAT idea to drug test people getting "food stamps".I live in Northampton County and know of several people that sell their food stamps for money.They take people grocery shopping and trade food for cash.Also a lot of these people drive better vehicles than people working and live in a lot nicer houses.There are people that really need it and can't get it and that's not fair.There was an article in my local newspaper of a man lying about having children living with him that were'nt and scamming the government out of $13,000.00 of food assistence.Kudos to Thom Tillis for stepping up to this issue.

  • BIlzac Oct 12, 2011

    Why stop at drug testing?

    If they've ever smoked a legal cigarette.....GET RID OF EM!

    If they drink soda instead of water...GET RID OF EM!

    If they're overweight...GET RID OF EM!

    If they listen to that Hip Hop/Rap music...GET RID OF EM!

    If they listen to that Rock and Roll music...GET RID OF EM!

    If they prefer tomato based BBQ...GET RID OF EM!

    and for sure...

    If they vote Democrat...GET RID OF EM!

  • marktroll Oct 12, 2011

    drawing a line between those that CANT and those that CHOOSE NOT TO isnt as crazy as LL and the Dem machine make it out to be.

  • Rico Oct 12, 2011

    I don't see the problem.Im glad someone is showing some common sense.

  • SARCASTICLES Oct 12, 2011

    Which One Is Sadder Dept: That an elected representative of the state would say that to pander to moe-rons, or that they would cheer him on for his narrow-mindedness. WE report...YOU decide. ;)

  • ljohnson247 Oct 12, 2011

    We think that anybody getting social service assistance and are able to work or some form of work they should be put to work of some kind. Cleaning parks, public building, picking up trash, something. Many have taken social sevice assistance as a job.

  • Ishmael Oct 11, 2011

    Common sense does not equal logic. I must sound like an "elite" liberal (I'm not). Fine yelton221, let's spend some money on a solution that does not solve a problem. Since it's a Republican idea, it can't mean wasteful spending, right?

  • yelton221 Oct 11, 2011

    As a taxpaying citizen that provides the money for your salery state employer I am glad to see someone in the legislature promote common sense. I think anyone that get money from the state should be subject to random drug testing. Yes that include employees, legislators, those that get benefits. This is just a smart way of means testing which means that the ones that need benefits would have more available. Go Tom Go.