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Tillis talks record, reforms with small business

Posted May 21, 2014

Thom Tillis

— House Speaker Thom Tillis made an appearance Wednesday before the state’s chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small-business advocacy group. Although he mentioned his U.S. Senate campaign only once, and obliquely at that, it was a clear subtext for many of his remarks.

The group awarded Tillis its highest honor, the "Guardian of Small Business" award, which state NFIB director Gregg Thompson said hadn't been awarded in nine years. Previous honorees included Congressman Howard Coble and U.S. Sens. Jesse Helms and Richard Burr. 

NFIB actively supports candidates it endorses, although not in all races. Under state law, state lawmakers cannot accept donations from PACs during session for state campaigns. But they can accept contributions for federal campaigns, and Tillis has said he'll continue to raise money for his Senate bid during the session. 

"I’m involved in [a campaign], by the way," Tillis joked toward the end of his appearance.

The Mecklenburg County Republican told the group the priorities for the short session – "and it will be a short short session" are the budget, which he expects the Senate will finish work on next week, the tax changes that passed the House Wednesday afternoon and regulatory reform, which is on the Senate floor Thursday.

"But not much else," he added. "We need to be disciplined."

Tillis touted the state’s employment recovery and changing tax and regulatory rankings as proof of his legislative success.  He also downplayed criticisms that he’s cozy with big business, a charge frequently made in ads supporting his November opponent, incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

"When we’re criticized for regulatory reform, it’s said that we’re somehow helping big businesses, and that that’s the focus, it's quite contrary," he said.

"A large corporation in North Carolina has a department of regulatory affairs," with attorneys and lobbyists, he said, but small businesses don’t have those resources.

"When you’re a mom-and-pop shop," he said, "and you get that intimidating letter from some government regulatory agency, and you’ve got to deal with them for two or three days, four or five days, it’s debilitating to your business.

"People need to understand that’s why regulatory reform has such a dramatic positive effect on small businesses – far more than big businesses," he said. "We all want safe workplaces. We all want clean water. We all want clean air. But let’s do it in a responsible, cost-effective manner."

Tillis also defended last year’s tax reform bill against critics’ charges that it caused the $445 million shortfall in the current budget.

"What we have as a shortfall is completely manageable," he said. "We will be able to live up to our promise for teacher pay raises, state employee pay raises. It’s not about having to cut because of the shortfall. It’s just how much further we can go."

He declined to say whether he favors any candidate to replace him as House speaker next year, saying only that he’s "trying to lay the groundwork" for his successor, including an interim commission to study insurance mandate reform.

"I’m neither for all mandates nor against them," he said. "Let’s take a look at the economic benefit, and if we as legislators believe we accrue an economic benefit for that, then how do we hold the businesses harmless in the process of implementing that?"

He also said, in response to a question from the audience, that state lawmakers likely aren’t finished with an attempt to reform the privilege tax license imposed on businesses by some cities and counties.

Tillis said the privilege license tax is "inconsistent from city to city, inconsistent from county to county, and I don’t think a very fair way to derive revenue."

However, he added, "What we’re trying to do now is net out how much of a difference they have to deal with" and "see if there are any outliers where we need to help."

10 Comments

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  • goldenosprey May 23, 2014

    What reactionary company Floridian Thom Tills (R-ALEC) has from the NFIB luminaries!

    The award is particularly ironic given that his tax reform bill reformed the deduction on the first $50K of small bi profit away. Unemployment taxes have gone up even if you've not fired anyone. If I have a part-timer helping me s/he probably would be able to qualify for medicaid in a sane state, but not here.

    The election of this bought and paid for LARGE corporate shill would be a tragedy for North Carolina and a setback for the nation.

  • Deep Thought May 22, 2014

    Tillis is the property of ALEC and the Koch brothers with a side dish of Karl Rove thrown in and a sprinkling of Art Pope. He would be one of the worst things that has happened to North Carolina. Notice that Howard Coble and Raymond Burr like him, these are the the strange bedfellows that he keeps.

  • Larry Lynch May 22, 2014
    user avatar

    if you think thom tillus is tea party then you don't have a clue. he is bought and sold mainstream republican... do not insult the tea party with your confusion.

  • webhype May 22, 2014

    "cooldela1966" is that straight from his campaign material ? Tillis lead the Tea Party charge to destroy this state, give big business tax breaks while nickel and diming the common man by raising taxes on everything else.

  • Carol Smith May 22, 2014
    user avatar

    I don't trust him. He has done nothing for NC

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone May 22, 2014

    Did he talk about not expanding Medicaid and how that leaves 500,000 in NC without coverage. How many people have died because of Tillis' record?

  • iopsyc May 22, 2014

    Too bad the tax reform bill eliminated the $50,000 deduction for net business income.

  • Charlie Watkins May 22, 2014
    user avatar

    Thom Tillis is a well qualified statesman and will make North Carolina a wonderful Senator. He is a man with legislative as well as business experience and is in touch with the traditional values of North Carolina.

    North Carolina will be standing tall if we elect him to the United States Senate.

  • IliveinwhackogopcontrolledNC May 22, 2014

    What a joke.

  • archmaker May 22, 2014

    Please ask this "guardian" of small business was it necessary for the General Assembly to raise mom and pop's unemployment taxes 30% this quarter just so he could trumpet the fact that we are paying back the Feds in half the required time?