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Senate Ad Attacks Tillis on State's Education Spending

Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan
NC General Assembly/US Senate

House Speaker Thom Tillis is the target of a new ad that criticizes the state legislature’s cuts to education.

The Senate Majority PAC spent $800,000 on the ad in support of U.S. Senator Kay Hagan in her bid for re-election against her Republican rival.  

The ad claims that Tillis froze teachers’ salaries and “forced teachers to pay more for school supplies.” It notes that teacher pay in NC ranks 46th in the nation and that more than 9,000 teaching positions were cut under Tillis. The ad contrasts those cuts to a bill passed last year that “protected tax breaks to large yacht owners.”

Groups like the Senate Majority PAC have spent more than 7 million dollarsattacking Tillis. A spokesperson for the House Speaker says those outside special interest groups are misleading North Carolinians.

“If Hagan's liberal D.C. allies spent any time in North Carolina, they would know that Speaker Tillis is leading the way on a bipartisan plan to increase teacher pay, which recently passed in the state House by a unanimous 117-0 vote," said spokesman Daniel Keylin.

House leaders want to give teachers an average five percent raise but are still at odds with Senate leaders who have a different pay plan in mind.

Recent polls from the conservative Civitas Institute and the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling show that Hagan is barely leading Tillis in the race for the U.S. Senate. According to PPP, one factor contributing to Hagan’s increased lead against Tillis is continued voter dissatisfaction with the General Assembly. Eighteen percent of those polled approve of the job the General Assembly is doing, while 54 percent disapprove.

Tillis hasn't had much time on the campaign trail as lawmakers are still debating a final state budget.

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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