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Tillis on fracking, health exchange, budget surplus

House Speaker Thom Tillis met with reporters Tuesday morning to give a preview of the week ahead and explain a few things.

Surplus: He said numbers just in show about a $106 million budget surplus this year. Tillis called it a $3 billion savings, considering where the budget has gone over the past two years when the Republicans gained control of the General Assembly.

Tough decisions are paying off, he said.

Tillis also introduced the "finders-keepers" theory of budget reform. He said state departments are being told that if they can identify cuts in their own departments, they might be able to keep that money to use somewhere else. But if the budget-whackers find it first, then they lose that money.

Fracking: The speaker expressed hesitancy over a bill filed in the Senate on Monday that would speed up the fracking process. Tillis said last session the House had worked out a thoughtful process leading up to the initiation of hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina, and he'd like to see that process play out.

Tillis noted that the House overrode the governor's veto of the fracking bill last session with the help of a handful of Democrats, whose support was gained in part because of the process that was envisioned.

Health insurance exchange: On why the House last session approved a bill establishing a state-run health-care exchange, but now opposes it: "The facts have changed."

Tillis said last year's attempt was more of a tactical strike to control the state's destiny. But now, he said, more is known about the federal health plan.

"I’m convinced now that it could have been bait that we could have taken that would have made it more difficult for us, every bit as costly and maybe even more costly.”

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