It’s all about the economy . . . and the budget deficit and job development, Buncombe County’s newest legislator told a gathering of the Council of Independent Business Owners this morning. Republican Tim Moffitt, who defeated incumbent Rep. Jane Whilden (Dem.) last November, has yet to be sworn into office, but he’s been on the road to Raleigh, Charlotte and even Washington, D.C., learning the legislative ropes and lining up his roll in the new Republican majority arriving in N.C. General Assembly on Jan. 26.
New state Rep. Tim Moffitt and CIBO member Mac Swicegood; photo by Margaret Williams
The estimated $3.4- to $3.7-billion budget deficit is the top priority, Moffitt declared several times, promising a “philosophical shift” from a spending philosophy to one of saving. “For decades, whatever comes in through finance was spent by appropriations without any real plan for a rainy day,” he asserted. But in a question-and-answer session with the local business owners, Moffitt touched on other issues he intends to address. He plans to be a primary sponsor on legislation to eliminate forced annexation. (Last year, Asheville City Council tabled an annexation in Royal Pines, which lies in his district.) Moffitt foresees no change in the Sullivan Acts I, II and III (concerning Asheville-Buncombe County water service). And rail service between Raleigh and Asheville, long in the planning stage, is not cost-effective, he said, predicting that: “Nothing like that is going to see the light of day in this session.”
An independent business owner himself, Moffitt told his business audience that he’ll be part of the Economic Development Policy Group in the Republican caucus, looking at things that affect businesses and job develoment in North Carolina. He has also joined the American Legislative Exchange Council, a national body that puts together private industry representatives and legislators to shape legislation. Asked about the local Interstate 26 Connector project for downtown Asheville and its lengthy delays, Moffitt spoke of his past business involvement in transportation — including Boston’s “Big Dig” — and said he has asked to be a part of the state’s transportation committee, hoping to take a leadership role on the issue.
Moffitt will be sworn into office Saturday night, Jan. 8, here in Asheville by visiting N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Paul Newby, in a 6:30 p.m. ceremony with family and friends at the Buncombe County Courthouse. The option for private swearing-in ceremonies was extended this year to incoming legislators, he said, as an alternative to the statehouse ceremony on the legislature’s opening day.
— Nelda Holder, freelance for the Xpress