House Republicans push back on budget

Posted May 2, 2011 9:22 p.m. EDT
Updated May 2, 2011 9:26 p.m. EDT

NC House Republicans held an unusual Monday afternoon press conference today to combat what they say are exaggerated estimates of job losses under their budget proposal.

Democrats have been warning the House GOP plan would ax more than 30,000 jobs, more than 18,000 in education alone. But House Speaker Thom Tillis denied it: “It simply doesn’t work out with the math.”

Tillis said “maybe as many as 5,000 to 7,000” current workers could lose their jobs. But he says the rest of the cuts are either to vacant positions, or can be covered for by normal job turnover among teachers and state employees. In fact, he claims the budget could generate 14,000 jobs through funding for repairs and renovations.

Tillis also said laid-off teachers and employees would have “priority” in rehiring to fill vacant positions. But section 7.23(b) of the budget bill appears to remove that priority status for teachers. Education Subcommittee co-chair Bryan Holloway couldn’t immediately say why that provision was included.

Natural and Economic Resources Subcommittee co-chairs Roger West (R-Cherokee) and Carolyn Justice (R-Pender) defended their 22% cut to the Dept. of Environmental Resources.

West said it’s a relatively small agency to begin with, but “we had to make some fairly substantial cuts and we had nowhere else to get it.”

Justice explained that their budget area also covers the Dept. of Agriculture, which is still the state’s number-one industry, as well as Commerce, which seeks to bring jobs into the state. 

DENR, on the other hand, “is not a job producer,” she said.  

“It was not just a wholesale slaughter,” Justice argued. “It was well thought-out.”

Watch the whole press conference at right.