Raleigh – Senator Tillis filed for re-election yesterday by saying his time as Speaker of the House “would set him apart” from challengers (he also made his lack of independence “redundantly clear”). One day later, a landmark report painted a clearer picture of that record: chronic underfunding of public schools that has left the state “still short of offering all sound basic education.”
According to the groundbreaking report, the state made advances in public education but began regressing right around the time when Tillis took the speaker’s gavel. As the report notes, “per-pupil spending declined between 2009-10 and 2017” because of “much deeper legislative cuts” that kicked off declines in student performance starting in 2013.
Tillis’ education record gets worse: he passed a budget that eliminated 9,000 teaching and teaching assistant positions as teachers fled to other states like Texas and Georgia, cut roughly $115 million for textbooks and instructional supplies, and laid the seeds of North Carolina’s “class size chaos” by increasing student-teacher ratios.
That’s not all the damage Tillis caused while in Raleigh. He also:
- Blocked Medicaid expansion, bragging again this summer that he made it illegal for the state to expand health care coverage to 600,000 North Carolinians.
- Passed one of the most aggressive voter suppression laws, which the courts ruled unconstitutional because it targeted African-Americans with “almost surgical precision.”
- Slashed corporate taxes and eliminated breaks for working families, “a mistake that’s holding back North Carolina.” He later supported a similar tax giveaway to corporations and the ultra-wealthy in the U.S. Senate.