Raleigh’s News & Observer today weighed in on GOP House members’ choice of Cornelius Rep. Thom Tillis as that body’s next speaker.
The paper’s editorial delves into an array of issues, but focuses most on the state’s current economic condition and the expected $3 billion to $4 billion budget shortfall Republicans in the state House and Senate must close when they begin their majority rule in the legislature in January.
Tillis emerged as a late contender for the speaker’s post. His main rival was Rep. Paul Stam of Apex, who has been the GOP’s capable House leader with Democrats in the majority and Rep. Joe Hackney of Chapel Hill as speaker. Some of Stam’s favorite social causes, such as abortion limits and a ban on gay marriage, may not fall quite as prominently on the new speaker’s to-do list.
Tillis indicates he wants to meet with education leaders to get their advice on where budget savings might be found, and that’s much better than taking a top-down outlook that would have legislative leaders impose across-the-board cuts and ask questions later. Both Tillis and new Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (of Eden) would be smart to consult with those to be affected by dramatic budget cuts before they get the knives out, or have their finance leaders do it. Smarter still would be to keep as much of the lawmaking process as possible in the open. Secrecy breeds suspicion.
The staff ends with a warning, of sorts, for GOP members to steer clear of controversial issues and instead stick to important and vital issues affecting most North Carolinians:
Tillis and Stam indicate they’ll be willing to work with Democrats. Frankly, given the way some in the Democratic majority have treated Republicans over the years, that will be a magnanimous position if the GOP’s legislative leaders follow through on it. If they do, and if they avoid ideological flights of fancy, they’ll be able to say they taught the Democrats a thing or two about bipartisan leadership.
qnotes has reached out to Rep. Tillis and hopes we’ll get the chance to sit down with him for an interview in the near future. We’ll keep you updated.