Under the Dome

Hagan hits Tillis on education issues during NC State visit

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan hit a familiar theme during a Monday appearance at N.C. State University, saying the N.C. House Speaker “has the wrong education priorities for North Carolina.”

Hagan told a group of about 50 students and reporters that Tillis “slashed $500 million from public education funding so he could give a tax break for the wealthy.” That’s a claim Politifact rates as “half true” because the legislature’s 2013 budget increased education spending compared to previous years, though it fell short of what was requested to maintain the status quo.

Hagan also criticized Tillis for adding a sales tax to college meal plans and for saying he’d consider eliminating the federal Department of Education.

“Speaker Tillis just isn’t working for working families,” she said.

Hagan also touted her own record when she was in the General Assembly, noting that state budgets she was involved with included funding for N.C. State’s Hunt Library and teacher raises.

“I included a teacher pay raise every budget year,” she said. “Teachers got a 21 percent pay raise when I was doing the budget.”

The N.C. Republican Party criticized Hagan’s appearance at N.C. State, which was not open to the public. The party had its duck mascot posted outside the event.

“North Carolina State students and average North Carolina voters ought to be able to see their senator,” party director Todd Poole said in a news release. “But Sen. Kay Hagan is locking out everyone but hand-picked supporters.”

Although the location wasn’t publicized and the campus newspaper described the event as invite-only, Hagan spokeman Chris Hayden said any N.C. State student could attend. “I don’t think we turned away anyone,” he said.

Hagan also responded to the Tillis campaign’s criticism for declining a debate invitation from TWC News, The News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer.

“Our teams negotiated back in July when we both agreed to do three debates,” she said. “Now I’ve got the opportunity to travel this state and have forums just like this.”

Tillis will be on his own Tuesday night answering questions from three reporters in a round table discussion on “Capital Tonight” on TWC News. Tune in at 7 p.m.