The North Carolina General Assembly is nearly three months late on finalizing a budget for fiscal years 2021-23, which started July 1. But Rep. Tim Moore, the Republican speaker of the House, says the process is finally starting to wrap up.
“Everyone wants to know, ‘When are you gonna get it finished?’ ‘Not soon enough’ is the answer,” said Moore, who spoke during a Sept. 24 virtual meeting of the Asheville-based Council of Independent Business Owners. “But my hope is that we will be able to have that resolved within the next two weeks.”
Moore, in his 10th term representing Cleveland County’s District 111 in the western Piedmont, said that the delay is in part due to influxes of federal COVID-19 relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. State leaders are determining how best to use the funds while continuing to deal with the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, he explained.
Without providing specifics, Moore said that the budget this year will include both tax relief and historic spending through the use of federal dollars.
“You’re going to see spending in, for example, education in amounts that we’ve never spent before. Transportation and road infrastructure, you’re going to see a lot of money spent there,” he said. “And then you’ll also be seeing probably the largest infusion of investment in capital infrastructure, probably in the state’s history. I don’t mean to overemphasize that, but it’s truly in the history of the state — not only in real dollars, but even adjusted for inflation.”
Moore explained that the proposed budget allocates much of the relief money toward one-time expenses as opposed to creating new, recurring programs. He also said that the proposed budget includes investments in workforce development and health care, particularly in rural areas.
“The COVID-19 issue, and some of the other surrounding discussions that we’ve had on health care, have really highlighted a lot of disparities and a lot of need in health care that, frankly, have been known for awhile. But it’s put an exclamation point on it,” Moore said. “For example, for our region in the state, you could expect to see investment in a number of rural health centers, investment to help shore up our hospitals and other things to ensure that we improve the safety net out there for all of our citizens.”
Xpress submitted questions about the budget, including what specific spending initiatives will impact Western North Carolina directly, but CIBO moderators did not ask the representative.
After the state budget is finalized, Moore said that he and other representatives will turn their attention to North Carolina’s redistricting process, which will need to be completed before the 2022 election filing deadline in December.
“It just seems like never-ending litigation, but … I believe that we’ll come up with a process that folks recognize is fair and appropriately addresses the representational needs of this state going forward,” Moore said.