Raleigh – Thousands will march on Raleigh tomorrow to push for more funding and respect for our public schools from the Republican General Assembly. But far from being just a recent phenomenon, their complaints have roots with one person: Thom Tillis.
As speaker of the North Carolina House, Tillis presided over bottom-of-the-barrel teacher pay and slashed education spending while cutting taxes for the wealthy and corporations. During his speakership, Tillis passed a budget that:
- Eliminated 9,000 teaching and teaching assistant positions, leading teachers to flee to other states like Texas and Georgia;
- Cut roughly $115 million for textbooks and instructional supplies; and,
- Pushed class sizes to grow by increasing student-teacher ratios, contributing to North Carolina’s “class size chaos”
Not everyone did worse during Tillis’ speakership.
While teachers faced deep cuts and crowded classrooms, Speaker Tillis passed a tax bill that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthiest North Carolinians and corporations but was “especially burdensome” to working families. Tillis:
- Cut income taxes “much more” for wealthier North Carolinians and preserved tax breaks for purchasing yachts and jets.
- Eliminated “several exemptions and deductions that benefited working class taxpayers” such as the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, deductions for seniors with medical expenses, a tax break for families saving for college, and the tax deduction for teachers’ expenses.
Even senior leaders under Tillis admitted, “Yes, you can go back and say if we didn’t cut taxes we would have money for education.”
“Tomorrow, thousands of educators and supporters will again flood the streets of Raleigh to rally for more respect from the Republican General Assembly – but the problem didn’t just start over the past two years,” NCDP spokesman Robert Howard said. “The roots of tomorrow’s rally can be traced back to Thom Tillis’ failed speakership, which saw teachers flee to other states and students crowd into deteriorating classrooms all while cutting taxes for the wealthy and corporations. That’s Senator Tillis’ legacy – making life harder for teachers and working families while making things easier for those at the top.”