May 27, 2011
Speaker of the House Thom Tillis says the General Assembly is “his House”
This past Tuesday, May 24, over 300 people gathered in the 3rd floor auditorium of the General Assembly to denounce the House Republican state budget that attacks the poor, minorities, seniors, working families, and children. The rally was organized by the NC NAACP and the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HK on J) People’s Coalition.
Before the rally was set to begin, North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber and other North Carolina NAACP leaders were arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct after disrupting a House of Representatives session to ask Speaker Thom Tillis why he refused to meet with the coalition. Afterward, Speaker Tillis told reporters and demonstrators that he would be happy to meet with people “when they treat my House with respect.” Clearly, the new majority has forgotten that the General Assembly is our House and that they work for us, the people.
This rally was to let state lawmakers and the Tea Party extremists know that all-out attacks on the people of North Carolina will not go unnoticed. The citizens of this state will continue to stand up and demand that the budget not be balanced on the back of the most vulnerable groups of North Carolinians. Over a dozen speakers addressed the crowd about a wide variety of issues, including jobs, voting rights, schools, health care, racial justice, and public services, all of which are under attack from this proposed budget. Some speakers shared personal stories; others voiced their dim vision of the future if this budget was passed.
One issue that was highlighted during this rally was the inexplicable inaction by Speaker Tillis to pass a clean bill to extend benefits for the now 45,000 unemployed workers who are suffering at the hands of G.O.P. lawmakers and their political chess game. One unemployed mother of two, delivered heartfelt comments, pleading with lawmakers, giving a face to the pain and suffering. She stated:
“We are facing a potential foreclosure because we cannot work with the lender to show that we have any income coming in. This is not a game, our lives are being affected in a major way. These are real faces that you’re playing with.”
MaryBe McMillan, Secretary-Treasurer of the NC State AFL-CIO, wanted a chance to speak for those 45,000 families and to shame G.O.P. lawmakers for their unconscionable decision to deepen the hurt of the long-term unemployed. As the number of people losing benefits continues to grow by just over 2,000 each week, she took that opportunity to deliver this clear, powerful message to the Republican lawmakers who enjoy playing games with workers’ lives.
Please contact Speaker Tillis at 919.733.3451 and Senate President Phil Berger at 919.733.5708 and demand they quit hijacking these benefits that so many North Carolinians depend on. Demand a clean bill to authorize continued payment of federal unemployment benefits ASAP! Spread the word and get others to make calls. Republican legislators need to hear that constituents are disgusted by their callous disregard for unemployed workers.