Raleigh, N.C. — House Speaker Thom Tillis on Tuesday laid out his strategy for budget cuts: Finders keepers.
Tillis says the latest consensus revenue forecast will give state budget writers an additional $106 million to work with this year. But he confirmed that state agencies are still being asked to cut 2 percent from their budgets across the board.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in this room that would argue that this state is running at 100 percent efficiency,” he said at a news conference. “We’re looking for ways to reduce or eliminate inefficiencies, and the only way you do that is to challenge the folks out in government to look at how they can do more with less.”
“What I’ve tried to tell every agency in this state that I’ve met with (is) we’re going to play a game of 'finders keepers,'" he said.
“If these agencies come forward with recommendations to run more efficiently, we’re going to find a way to let them keep those efficiencies and put them into strategic projects, repairs and renovations, whatever they want to,” he said. “However, if we have to work to find the efficiencies, they’re probably not going to keep those cuts.”
“We’re asking them to think differently. We’re asking them to think about productivity,” Tillis explained. “The problem in the past is, when a good idea for productivity would come down, they’d say, ‘Well, I want to do it, but if I do, they’re going to cut my funding,’ and it’s created bad behaviors.
“So we’re going to give them an opportunity to find these efficiencies, but make no mistake about it – if we are the ones who ultimately have to find it, then we can no longer trust that leader to find these things in his or her agency. Therefore, we will probably claw back funding until we can establish that trust.
“I would challenge everybody at every level,” he concluded. “Get within your organization, find efficiencies and know that, as far as the House is concerned, you’ll be rewarded for doing that.
“And if you don’t, you’ll be giving me some money to spend somewhere else."