Stam predicts first GOP state budget will be ‘hugely unpopular’
Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Wake), a leading contender for House Speaker, said Thursday night that the new Republican-controlled General Assembly will cut state spending so sharply that the next state budget will be “hugely unpopular,” but the public will come to appreciate the effects of reduced spending.
Speaking to a group of more than 100 at a meeting of the Northern Wake Republican Club, Stam said the legislature will approve a budget that closes a $3.5 billion deficit with deep cuts and without new taxes.
“That budget will be hugely unpopular, but we’re going to do it. And later people will like it when they see that we did OK,” Stam said.
Stam, an Apex lawyer and House minority leader last session, gave no specifics of what would be cut. Some likely targets are spending on education, from pre-school through the UNC system, and reductions in the state workforce.
In a speech entitled “Where we go from here,” Stam outlined other steps Republicans will take after gaining control of General Assembly for the first time in over a century.
Stam said Republicans would emphasize ethical government and fair treatment of the minority party.
“Ethics and rules are going to be a priority,” he said. “We are not going to treat Democrats like they treated us. There are Republicans who want us to, but we’re not going to do it. I believe in the Golden Rule and I believe in fair rules.”
But on the most contentious issue between the parties — redistricting — Stam backed away from his previous calls for a nonpartisan approach. As a member of the minority, he repeatedly supported a constitutional amendment to establish an independent commission that would oversee redistricting. On Thursday, he said there is not enough time to make that change.
“We can’t do it for the 2012 election for one simple reason: we have to have that plan done by June of next year in order to get it approved by the courts in time for it to be in effect for 2012,” Stam said. “So I would say the Democrats were hoisted on their own petard.”
Many progressive Democrats also support an independent commission and some may yet propose a version of the Republican minority’s proposal that fits the current time constraints.
Chris Fitzsimon, executive director of NC Policy Watch, suggested in a column this week that while there’s no time for a constitutional amendment before 2012, “there’s nothing to stop the House and Senate from creating a bipartisan commission by statute early in the session and letting the commission develop district plans that lawmakers can approve or reject.”
On other issues, Stam said the legislature would take early action on issues aimed at undocumented immigrants and same-sex marriage. He said Republicans will quickly approve a requirement that all voters present a valid photo ID before voting. He predicted prompt passage of a bill that would put on the ballot a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriages.
“The marriage amendment will be introduced and passed no matter who is speaker,” he said.
Stam said the legislature’s “first order of business” will be to seek an exemption from the new national health care law that requires all people to have health insurance. He said a successful move by North Carolina and other states could undermine the health care law widely opposed by Republicans.
“We think we’re on good solid ground to join with 20 other states in trying to protect our citizens from [mandatory coverage],” he said. “Having said that, at the state level, that’s about all we can do. We’re not Congress.
“But if we’re successful along with 20 other states in ripping that out, that’s the financial linchpin to Obamacare and the rest of it collapses like a house of cards.”
The next session of the General Assembly opens on Jan. 26.
[...] opposed to national health reform and be willing to try and work on some aspects of the changes. Remarks a couple of weeks ago from Rep. Skip Stam, House Majority Leader, should put any thoughts to rest [...]