Lincoln Herald: Saine's Bill May Spur Tech Improvements

North Carolina has positioned itself to lead the way in technological innovation. I'm proud to be the champion for many of the innovations we've seen the last several years. Today's Lincoln Herald highlights a bill I've worked on for the past year.

Those who live "out west" in Lincoln County and others of us who travel in that area of western Lincoln County are familiar with the problems cell phone users often have in those rural areas. Homes and businesses there are also subject to much less functional internet access than in other more populated areas.

The Governmental Affairs Committee and Board of Directors of the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce have voted to support faster internet service for all of Lincoln County.

A new law may help.

Lincoln County State Representative Jason Saine says he is pleased to report that a bill he sponsored may soon provide better internet access to areas of Lincoln County and benefit the state as a whole.

"I'm happy to report that a bill I sponsored, House Bill 310, as of last week became law. This law helps us build on the legacy of innovation in North Carolina and positions us to be leaders in the next technological revolution--without spending any taxpayer money. Capital tends to flow to places that are ready for investment and House Bill 310 sends the signal that North Carolina is ready for that investment."


Saine, who in January of this year was appointed to a two-year term on the Federal Communications Commission’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, was recognized for his work in Information Technology in 2013 when he won the North Carolina Technology Association’s Public Leadership Award. He also led on a number of important tech issues during the 2015 Legislative session, including: creating a cabinet level Department of Information Technology, protecting student and employee social media privacy, changing state tax law to incentivize IT job creation, and encouraging IT innovation at colleges and universities and in state government.

"Infrastructure has been the lynchpin of the American economy over the last century," Saine told us. "Under President Eisenhower, the United States made unprecedented investments in our roads, rails and ports, which accelerated America’s growth and influence in the world. A couple of decades later, President Reagan showed us that the best thing government can do is get out of the way and allow the private sector to invest and create jobs.

"Since the turn of the 21st century, technology has fundamentally changed the way we work, live and play. In North Carolina, it has opened doors of opportunity for people from Murphy to Manteo. As we move towards 2020, the opportunities before us are incredible. To get there, though, we must have robust and ubiquitous broadband infrastructure. Next-generation wireless networks offer the promise and potential to revolutionize internet connectivity.


"Upgrading wireless networks to 5g technology will fundamentally change the way we use the internet. The ability to connect billions of devices will drive new innovation and efficiencies, transforming entire industry sectors, such as energy, health and public safety. 
"Wireless powered autonomous vehicles could reduce travel times by nearly 40% and save an estimated 21,700 lives due to reduced accidents. Entirely new businesses and industries will be created based on the power and capabilities of next-generation wireless technology.

"Unlike today’s wireless networks that connect people and devices through large cell towers, 5g networks require a massive deployment of small cell technology designed for speeds up to 100 times faster than today’s internet connections while supporting exponentially more devices. More than 250,000 small cells are expected to be installed over the next few years in the United States, nearly the number of traditional 'macro' cell sites built over the last 30 years. The wireless industry has committed to funding billions of dollars in new investment to upgrade these networks.

"Unfortunately, these investments are being slowed by outdated regulations and rules, delays that we simply cannot afford as we face stiff overseas competition for investment and jobs.

"According to a recent Accenture report, 5g wireless networks could create as many as three million jobs and boost US GDP (Gross Domestic Production) by nearly $500 billion over the next seven years. 

"More specifically, North Carolina communities – from small towns to big cities –will realize significant economic benefits from investment in 5g networks. 
States across the country are moving quickly to ready themselves for the investment influx that 5G will bring. In fact, just within the past twelve months, ten states have passed legislation that will streamline and expedite the deployment of next generation wireless networks.

"I sponsored House Bill 310 to ensure that North Carolina remains a leader in the technology sector, helping to make certain we are ready to capitalize on the opportunities presented by next generation technologies.

"House Bill 310 helps remove barriers to efficient deployment of small wireless facilities by streamlining processes and imposing reasonable rates and fees. House Bill 310 allows providers the opportunity to deploy small cells responsibly by having reasonable access to existing local infrastructure within and outside of the public rights-of-way (ROW). The legislation clarifies that small wireless facilities on existing infrastructure is a 'permitted use' and not subject to the type of review larger 'macro' cell towers receive.

"It is important to note that House Bill 310 places no limitations on localities’ ability to deny permits based on building, safety or electrical codes or standards. There is no removal of localities’ jurisdiction in these areas.

"As we strive to maintain North Carolina’s leadership position in a highly competitive global economy, we should remember the lessons that Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan taught us; investment in infrastructure is critical to excelling in a global economy and often the best course of action is for government to get out of the way so that those who have the capital and expertise can invest and help move the country (and our state) forward.

"I’m proud to have sponsored House Bill 310."

House Bill 310 was recently signed into law.

Lincoln Times News: New state budget includes additional funding for child advocacy centers

In my time in the North Carolina General Assembly I have prioritized helping those in need of help the most. Today's Lincoln Times News highlights one area where we've accomplished a lot: child advocacy centers. 

At a meeting of executive directors of child advocacy centers across North Carolina held last Tuesday in Raleigh, Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center executive director Sherry Reinhardt learned the that new North Carolina legislative changes increased annual child advocacy center funding from $24,200 to $50,000 to each CAC in good standing across North Carolina.

“It brings us in line with all other sexual assault and domestic violence agencies who have always got $50,000 but child advocacy centers have never reached that goal to where we were recognized,” Reinhardt said. “The year before we went from $12,000 to $24,200.”

This increase in funding was introduced in House Bill 897, which was co-sponsored by Lincoln County state Rep. Jason Saine. HB 897 was not passed by the Senate, but the funding was included in the larger budget bill and passed both houses and was ratified, according to Saine.

Making sure that our child advocacy centers across the state receive proper funding has been a priority for me while serving in Raleigh,” Saine said in an email. “Through Sherry Reinhardt and her staff at the Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse and Child Advocacy Center, I have come to appreciate the services they provide. By working with my colleagues on both sides, we have been able to increase funding in several consecutive budgets and ultimately help law enforcement and child advocacy centers staff in prosecution of those who have abused children.”

Saine said that, as the father of a 9 year old, it is hard for him to imagine that anyone could hurt a child intentionally, much less sexually and physically abuse them. Saine has known Reinhardt for many years and when he realized he could assist child advocacy centers across the state after losing funding through the federal sequestration, he wanted to do all that he could.

“Fifty thousand dollars is like a million dollars for us,” Reinhardt said. “I’m going to use the extra money to help us provide medical services to our victims.”

Human trafficking is also becoming a pressing problem in North Carolina and those executive directors that attended the meeting were provided with information and tools to help combat this new form of child abuse.

The Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center will be upgraded to a new database with grant funding provided by the Duke Endowment. All services for this database will also be covered by the Duke Endowment for three years.

“This is going to work out better for all child advocacy centers across North Carolina,” Reinhardt said. “It’s much more user friendly for us because we are much more diverse in our funding in North Carolina. We have lots of grants and sources and all of them want things reported to quantify.”

This new software is provided by Child Advocacy Centers CareNet and offers reporting, documentation, client management, grant writing and grant management features.

In addition, the new North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission executive director, Caroline Valand, was introduced at the meeting and gave updates on grants and grant cycles.

Thank you to Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center and Sherry Reinhardt for all your service to Lincoln County.

From the Lincoln Times News: Our View— Concealed carry changes should pass

I made a promise to always defend the Second Amendment liberties of Lincoln County citizens, and I'm proud to have voted for House Bill 746, which further protects those liberties. I was glad to see more support for the bill locally this week. From the Lincoln Times News:

A bill in the North Carolina legislature that would loosen concealed carry laws in the state has the outspoken support of one of Lincoln County’s legislators. It deserves the support of both state Rep. Jason Saine, who voted in favor of the bill when it was in the House, and state Sen. David Curtis, who was noncommittal when asked about the proposal by a Times-News reporter and said he was unfamiliar with the bill. Gun rights are a fundamental part of the fabric of American life, and are a key part of our democracy, that have to be defended. The legislature has a responsibility to conform state law to the Constitution, even when the federal government abdicates that responsibility. That Curtis is unfamiliar with the issue, at least publicly, is disturbing.

House Bill 746, with four Republicans as its primary sponsors, passed the House with six Republican defections and no Democrat votes earlier in June. The bill, which was referred to the Senate and has been in committee since June 12, would allow law-abiding North Carolinians to carry a concealed weapon in places where openly carried guns are already allowed.

The bill is (nearly) in keeping with the intention of the Founders when they wrote the Second Amendment. There’s no text in the Constitution about the right to “keep and bear arms,” so long as you take a class and have a permit. Gun ownership is a right that “shall not be infringed.”

Constitutional issues aside, concealed carry is often a better option than open carry for those who want to exercise their Second Amendment rights. Seeing a gun in public makes some people uncomfortable. For the sake of courtesy, allowing a person to conceal a weapon, if for no other reason than to avoid provoking a negative reaction in those around them, is a sensible compromise.

The bill would remove the requirement that those who want to carry a concealed weapon take an eight-hour class to become familiar with handguns, never mind that those who carry a gun openly aren’t required to take any sort of gun safety class. It’s up to each gun owner to be familiar with how to handle weapons safely, and to ensure that they don’t fall into the wrong hands. A person lacking that basic level of responsibility shouldn’t own a gun, but it’s not up to the government to impose that kind of requirement when it’s not in keeping with the Constitution.

State Senate Republicans should vote on the bill soon, and undo this problematic aspect of state law.

I will continue to support and defend the Second Amendment.

Rep. Jason Saine Sworn in to Third Full Term, Appointed Senior Finance Co-Chair

This Wednesday I was sworn in to my third full term at the North Carolina General Assembly, and it was a special day for many reasons.  We welcomed several new members and unanimously re-elected Rep. Tim Moore to Speaker of the House.

I also was re-appointed to continue to serve as Senior Finance Co-Chair along with Rep. Bill Brawley for the next two years.

What was most special about this day, though, was getting to share it with my family. 

I couldn't do this job without the sacrifices my family makes every day. 

I couldn't do this job without the sacrifices my family makes every day. 

My sweet dog, Charlotte, made the trip as well and quickly made herself at home. 

My sweet dog, Charlotte, made the trip as well and quickly made herself at home. 

Charlotte is never too far away. 

Charlotte is never too far away. 

Did I mention she made herself at home? 

Did I mention she made herself at home? 

Thank you James Piedad for capturing this special moment with my family! 

Thank you James Piedad for capturing this special moment with my family! 

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to continue to serve Lincoln County, and am looking forward to continuing to work for you each and every day. 

Jason Saine named to FCC Committee

Reo. Jason Saine was named to a crucial Federal Communications Commission board at the start of this year. From the Lincoln Times:

Lincoln County state Rep. Jason Saine has been appointed to the Federal Communications Commission’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee.

The IAC will operate for a two-year term, which will commence with the committee’s first meeting in Washington, D.C. at FCC headquarters on a date to be announced. The FCC will have the option to reauthorize the IAC at the end of the two-year period.

The committee will be tasked with providing expertise and recommendations to the FCC on a variety of telecommunication issues, focusing on broadband and wireless infrastructure deployment, Universal Service programs, consumer complaints processes and public safety issues.

“The IAC serves as an advisory board to the FCC to relay some of the challenges that state and local governments face with broadband deployment,” Saine said. “It provides a nice platform to interact with federal decision-makers on some of the policies that they’re setting forth and how they work and how they don’t work. Sometimes regulations are passed that they believe are helpful, but in reality they may be hurtful. This will allow me to work with federal regulators and keep them aware of the challenges facing Lincoln County and how to best address those issues.”

There are currently good broadband options in Lincoln County, according to Saine, but some of the more rural areas of the county are lacking in that department. These remote locations simply lack the number of households necessary to provide the same services available in Lincolnton and Denver.

Saine plans to introduce a bill when the North Carolina General Assembly returns to session that will help facilitate the deployment of broadband in these rural areas. He described these proposed small cell broadband capabilities, where telephone poles are used to create wi-fi networks that will allow carriers to deliver high-speed broadband via wireless signals, as the “wave of the future.”

“It will be very interesting to serve on this board with a new administration that is very pro-business and wants to innovate,” Saine said. “What we really want to do is get government regulation out of the way so that you can see private enterprise expand broadband options … I hear from leaders across the state from municipalities and counties who want more high-speed broadband because they feel as though it would help their economic development and recruitment. My main focus on this advisory board is to make sure that the federal government understands that when they put barriers in place it puts smaller cities and counties at a competitive disadvantage.”

Saine previously operated a small tech company in downtown Lincolnton that worked on servers and desktops, helping to integrate small businesses that were just beginning to adopt the internet as part of their practices. Saine was recognized for his work in IT with the North Carolina Technology Association Public Leadership award

Jason Saine, Lincoln County Republicans Dominate on Election Night

This was a big election night across our state, with Republicans dominating at every level. In the North Carolina General Assembly where I serve the House maintained their supermajority with 74 victories. In the other chamber of the North Carolina General Assembly, the Senate, the GOP also maintained their supermajority, including a victory by Lincoln County's own Sen. David Curtis.

In Lincoln County we saw a lot of success, winning many key races, including all three County Commission races and every School Board race. Having fiscally responsible, conservative voices at all levels of our government is crucial and without the help of countless volunteers and our Lincoln County GOP's leadership this cycle this would not have been possible. There is a tremendous opportunity in front of us to govern well so Lincoln County can continue to grow and thrive.


With one of my youngest, but most enthusiastic volunteers!

With one of my youngest, but most enthusiastic volunteers!

Local involvement and enthusiasm was beyond anything else we've experienced in recent years

Local involvement and enthusiasm was beyond anything else we've experienced in recent years

More coverage on election night can be found here.


Last week I had the opportunity to take part in something special at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Speedway, along with Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, is hosting a race this Friday October 7th called Drive for the Cure 300 for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In the build up to the race 100 survivors of breast cancer, along with many other North Carolinians, were invited to paint pit row pink. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to paint a section.


I may have a career in painting! 

I may have a career in painting! 

I got to meet a handful of other folks at the Speedway.


Jimmie Johnson asked if we could swap rides for the day; I told him I didn't think he could handle my Impala.

Jimmie Johnson asked if we could swap rides for the day; I told him I didn't think he could handle my Impala.

Mia Hamm has won at every level she's ever competed, and is a wonderful spokesperson for BCBSNC. I promised her I wouldn't hold her UNC allegiance against her. 

Mia Hamm has won at every level she's ever competed, and is a wonderful spokesperson for BCBSNC. I promised her I wouldn't hold her UNC allegiance against her. 

Couple of young guns - Darrell Wallace Jr was a pleasure to speak with. 

Couple of young guns - Darrell Wallace Jr was a pleasure to speak with. 


Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women, but if caught early survival rates are over 95%. It's important to continue to invest in screening and treatment for breast cancer so that survival rate reaches 100%. I'm thankful for the work that BCBSNC, Charlotte Motor Speedway, and NASCAR are doing to make that goal a reality.

You can find out more about breast cancer here.

More information on Drive for the Cure can be found here.

Rep. Jason Saine Named PFFPNC Legislator of the Year

Earlier this month the Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics of North Carolina (PFFPNC) named me as one of the Legislators of the Year, along with Rep. Jon Hardister and Rep. Nelson Dollar.

One of the issues I've championed over the past five years has been making sure firefighters are taken care of. They put their lives on the line for the people of North Carolina everyday and making sure they are taken care of is a critical piece of why I was sent to Raleigh in the first place. In the 2016-2017 North Carolina budget we were able to expand line-of-duty death benefits for Fire Fighters statewide and cover key cancers that occur at higher rates among them due to being exposed to carcinogenic chemicals in every day fires.


Members of PFFPNC and (L to R) Logan Martin, Jon Hardister, Jason Saine, & Nelson Dollar

Members of PFFPNC and (L to R) Logan Martin, Jon Hardister, Jason Saine, & Nelson Dollar

Many of you know that before coming to the legislature I was a volunteer firefighter. I know all too well the dangers our firefighters face, and in the years ahead I look forward to finding more ways to make sure they are taken care of. 



A trio of magazine worthy smiles.

A trio of magazine worthy smiles.

Large Manufacturer Relocates to Lincoln County

Lincoln County has had a lot of good news on the economic front recently, and yesterday's news is no different. From the Lincoln Herald on September 20th:

Lincoln County Commissioners approved a tax incentive grant Monday night (Sep. 19th) that will help in bringing a major company to the county. Unox, Inc. is the largest manufacturer of combi ovens in the world measured in units produced and sold. Founded in 1990, the company is headquartered in northeastern Italy just west of Venice. Its US headquarters is currently located in Newtown, Pennsylvania, but the company has purchased the spec building at the Airlie Business Park off Highway 16 near Optimist Club Road in eastern Lincoln County and plans to move its US headquarters there. The company says it will later add another building for manufacturing.

The agreement calls for Unox to invest four million dollars at the location. The county will refund $14,893 to the company each year after its property taxes have been paid for a period of five years.


Commissioners approved construction of the spec building in 2014 and it was completed last year. The 50,000 sq. ft. building was much discussed before Commissioners decided to proceed with the project. In 2012, Crystal Gettys of the Lincoln Economic Development Association (LEDA) told Commissioners that Lincoln County had already attracted one new industry--Lucky Country, a candy manufacturer--because a building was available. In 2013 at a public hearing, she told them that "if the county already had such a facility, it could have been filled three to four times over." Cliff Brumfield, LEDA's Executive Director who had just taken the job only a month earlier, told Commissioners at that February 2013 hearing that "no fewer than 40 requests" from industries had to be declined over a previous 18-month period because the county didn't have a spec facility.


Brumfield spoke again Monday night during the public comments portion of the Commissioners' meeting. "I'm not speaking as director of LEDA, but as a citizen and taxpayer," he said. "I want to thank the board for approving this spec building. It has now been purchased and a new major company is coming to Lincoln County because of it, but the building has also been important in our discussions with other companies looking to move or expand operations. It has been a good investment."

Original plans called for the building to be 100,000 sq. ft. but that was cut in half and the 50,000 sq. ft. building was built to be expandable to double its original size. At the hearing in 2013, two former commissioners spoke in favor of the building and one against. Bruce Carlton was adamant in his opposition. Larry Craig and Terry Brotherton both spoke in favor. Brotherton noted that when the county decided to build the Lincoln County Industrial Park north of Lincolnton, some criticized the move. "The benefit has been enormous," he said.

Unox will join Hydac as major tenants in Airlie.

“This is wonderful news and a testament to what executives see when they look at Lincoln County as a possible relocation destination," said NC House Representative Jason Saine. "We have a well-trained workforce, available properties and an economic development team at LEDA that does what it takes to accommodate companies like Unox who want to grow in a very friendly business and manufacturing environment.” 

Unox's purchase of the Airlie I shell building will include an adjacent site to create a future manufacturing operation.

The Airlie Business Park was an initiative created by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners with a subsequent public-private partnership collaboration between the county, Denver Construction company, and the landowner, Ingleside Real Estate Investment Partners.

Denver Construction and Campbell Design, have been awarded a contract to design and construct the interior headquarters upfit work. The initial move will include five corporate employees.

Michael Conway, President and CEO of Unox, Inc. said, “We are very excited to be relocating our US corporate headquarters to Lincoln County as we continue our tremendous growth. From the beginning of our search process, everyone  involved has been extremely helpful and has worked very hard to ensure that we found a site that didn’t just meet our needs but exceeded our expectations.” Conway had especially high praise for Rep. Saine and his help in bringing the company and the local leaders together.

Dr. Jim Watson, LEDA Board Chairman added, “Unox is a welcome addition to Lincoln County and I applaud their decision to locate in our community. The County’s investment in the shell building was a key part of this announcement and I want to acknowledge the innovation this public-partnership represents.”

Unox, Inc. expects to be operational in Lincoln County during the second quarter of 2017.

Alcohol trade honors Lincoln lawmaker with state award

By Kevin Ellis | Gaston Gazette

The North Carolina Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association named Lincoln County Republican Rep. Jason Saine as its Legislator of the Year.

Saine, who will seek a third full two-year term after being appointed to the seat in 2011, serves as senior chairman of the House Finance Committee.

In that role, Saine has “exhibited strong and effective leadership in tax reform, transparency and fairness,” said Tim Kent, executive director of the association.

Saine said it was an honor to receive the award from the wholesalers trade association.

“In a highly regulated industry, these men and women provide many jobs and opportunity for our state,” Saine said in a statement released by his office.

In addition to his duties on the Finance Committee, Saine serves on a long list of other legislative committees, including House Rules, Information Technology, Alcoholic Beverage Control, and Commerce and Job Development.
Saine received his award in December while speaking at the winter meeting of the North Carolina Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association in Chapel Hill.

The member companies of the association directly employ 5,500 North Carolinians who provide product variety to grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants across the state.

Read More

Jason Saine clinches re-election bid

By Adam Lawson | Lincoln Times-News

Rep. Jason Saine essentially clinched a third full term in the North Carolina House of Representatives on Monday when the 2016 filing deadline passed with no action.

The Lincoln County Republican will run unopposed in November, meaning barring impeachment, resignation, retirement or a popular write-in candidate, Saine will continue in the 97th District seat he’s held the past four years.

“It feels nice to not have to campaign,” Saine said. “I’m very grateful and very humbled that I didn’t draw an opponent, that I’ll have a chance to go back unopposed.”

It’s the first unopposed run for Saine, who inherited the position upon Johnathan Rhyne’s retirement in August 2011. He easily defeated Republican challengers Jim Klein and Charles Newman in a 2012 primary, then held off Democrat Rosemary Hubbard in November 2014.

Read More

Libraries thank lawmaker for funding push

By Kevin Ellis | Gaston Gazette

Lincoln County Republican Rep. Jason Saine won the title of Library Champion from the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association.
The association gave Saine its award earlier this month saying he has been a strong advocate for libraries in North Carolina.“His family regularly visits the Lincoln County Public Library, and he has been a guest reader at family story times,” states a release from Saine’s office.

As a member of the General Government Budget Committee, Saine pushed for increases to better fund library services across North Carolina, according to the association.

Saine helped push a bill through that led to a $1 million reccurring increase for state aid to public libraries in the 2016 budget.

“Jason supports the role libraries play in literacy and education. He is committed to ensuring that libraries are adequately funded so they continue to provide access to technology, public information, employment resources and opportunities for lifelong learning. We are especially proud of the work Jason did to make libraries a priority in the state budget this year,” said Lincoln County Public Library Director Jennifer Sackett in a statement released by Saine’s office.

Mayors group awards Saine for legislative work

By Kevin Ellis | Gaston Gazette

A North Carolina mayors’ group recognized Lincoln County Republican Rep. Jason Saine for his work this past year.

Saine was one of four lawmakers to receive a legislative award from the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition last month at a Nov. 12 reception in Carrboro.

Others recognized were Stephen Ross of Alamance County, and Reps. Bill Brawley and Charles Jeter, both of Mecklenburg County.

The group praised Saine and the others for their legislative work on issues critical to the economic success of the state’s metropolitan regions.

Read More

House shuns Senate budget

By Adam Lawson | Lincoln Times-News

North Carolina’s House of Representatives made its opinion of the Senate’s budget plan perfectly clear on Tuesday afternoon, voting 112-0 to not concur with its proposal and setting the stage for what Rep. Jason Saine said could make for a long summer.

“There’s some vast differences, so this probably will take a while,” Saine said. “The Senate has put a great deal of policy in their budget and a lot of tax reform in their budget. The House does not have that. That’s something that’ll be very contentious.”

The Senate’s plan called for cuts on funding to teaching assistants and driver’s education, a cap on nonprofit sales tax refunds, Medicaid reform, an implementation of sales tax on things like advertising and veterinary services and a redistribution of local sales tax revenue.

It’s that last policy that seems to be getting the most House opposition. Under current law, 75 percent of local sales tax revenue goes to the county in which a sale is made and the other 25 percent is redistributed to all other counties in the state, based on population. The Senate’s plan would gradually flip that and, in four years, only 20 percent would go to the county that collected it.

Saine, a Republican who represents Lincoln County, said this plan, which would clearly hurt larger counties like Mecklenburg and Wake, is not the way to help rural counties like Lincoln.

“You can think of Mecklenburg County as the anchor for a 16-county economic superpower and we’re a part of that,” Saine said. “To hurt Mecklenburg audibly hurts us because we do rely on them for their infrastructure, for the restaurants that come there because of the high density of the population. When it’s a 30-minute drive from Lincoln County or a 20-minute drive depending on where you’re at to a nice restaurant in downtown Charlotte, that’s important. That’s an economic driver because corporations locate, and they build, in the shadows of cities.”

Saine, a senior co-chair on the House’s Finance Committee, said nobody in the House supported the tax plan. He also criticized a provision of the Senate’s plan that would enable counties to put quarter-cent interval sales tax increases up for approval via a voter referendum.

According to a North Carolina General Assembly document, potential sales tax revenue in Lincoln County would project to increase 51 percent from current law between the 2013-14 fiscal year and 2019-20 under the Senate’s plan, though that’s assuming the county implements a half-cent tax increase.

Lincolnton would see a 20 percent increase in total potential revenue. Meanwhile, large cities like Charlotte (3 percent), Durham (8 percent), Asheville (11 percent) and Greensboro (1 percent) would all see steep decreases in the same period.

The figures account for inflation and population growth, but assume that half-cent sales tax increase that county voters may vote not to approve. The document doesn’t mention corporations that could leave North Carolina cities or decide not to start business in the state because of the tax hike counties could implement as a result of the plan.

“To hurt and to basically handicap the city of Charlotte or Mecklenburg County, that does not in my view help Lincoln County,” Saine said. “We are dependent. We are interconnected. So many of our folks do travel to Charlotte for jobs. Or Gastonia, where they go in the region. This type of tax scheme could be really dangerous or really hurtful to our local economy.”

Saine said he’s against cuts to driver’s education and teaching assistant funding. The House’s budget plan, which got significant bipartisan support when it was approved 93-23 in May, called for none of those cuts but came at a heftier price tag. While the Senate’s plan rang in at $21.7 billion, the House’s sat at $22.2 billion.

Recently, Sen. David Curtis (R-Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln) said the Senate plans on cutting some funding to put money into the Rainy Day Fund and the Repairs and Renovations Reserve. Saine said that with recent projections showing a $400 million surplus, North Carolina should fund things that have taken hits in recent years.

“We’ve got some needs and some things that have gone underfunded and we’re going to fund those things,” he said.

Legislators from the House and Senate will soon meet to try to hammer out an agreeable plan, but Saine doesn’t foresee a resolution occurring prior to the new fiscal year on July 1. If a quick deal isn’t reached, a continuing resolution will likely be installed to keep government funding at its current levels.

Saine said members of the House are prepared to stay in session as long as necessary to get a budget hammered out, though that may take a while.

“We are going to be miles apart for a long time,” Saine said.

Our View — Senate budget needs work

There’s a big difference between conservative spending plans and reckless ideological penny pinching.

North Carolina’s Senate appears to be choosing the second route.

A story in our Friday edition detailed how the Senate’s budget proposal would save the state more than $200 million over the next two fiscal years by eliminating nearly 7,000 teacher assistants. Wednesday’s edition included a story about how the Senate budget “calls for a new cap on individual income tax deductions for charitable donations and the taxation of larger nonprofits with a state sales tax.” Itemized tax deductions for donations would be capped at $20,000 and nonprofit sales tax refunds would drop from $45 million to $1 million by 2020.

The Senate has also proposed changes to the way the state distributes sales tax revenue by county. “The formula now in place directs most of the money to the county where a sale occurred – an approach that favors urban counties where rural residents typically do their shopping,” according to an article published in the News & Observer on Tuesday. “The Senate budget would change that and allocate much of the money based on population, which has the effect of offering a boost to small, rural counties. Urban counties could lose millions – something some House members strongly oppose.”

Those are all preposterous ideas and, ideally, the House will talk some sense into their colleagues in the Senate when the two bodies convene to negotiate a final budget.

There’s room for reform in the way the state funds education but it’s far more likely that, over the long term, education can be more viable with a county-by-county evaluation of administrative practices and accounting. Teachers, and teacher assistants, aren’t generally known for big spending on pet projects — but administrators are. A more efficient and accountable system, overall, is a far better solution than removing teacher assistants, which most educators agree play a vital role in the classroom.

Taxing charitable donations and large nonprofits is also the wrong thing to do. The state doesn’t need, or deserve, any portion of any person’s donation to a charity or nonprofit. Nonprofit groups are still feeling the sting of recession and fundraising is as difficult as ever. Organizations that do good work in their communities don’t need the decline in services that would result from having funding siphoned off by the state.

The new scheme for the disbursement of sales tax revenue by population drew some references to Karl Marx in the North Carolina House — a bit hyperbolic, for anyone familiar with the ideas for which Marx actually stood. The plan does, however, have a decidedly leftist flavor, which makes its origin all the more surprising. Sales tax revenue should stay in the county where it was collected. If that means that Mecklenburg County keeps sales tax paid by Lincoln County residents, then so be it. Tax policy should be all about fairness, and the Senate’s proposal is anything but.

The Tax-Cut Payoff in Carolina

Even with lower rates, tax revenues have increased 6% this year, and the state has a $400 million budget surplus.

By Stephen Moore | Wall Street Journal

Four years ago North Carolina’s unemployment rate was above 10% and the state still bore the effects of its battering in the recession. Many rural towns faced jobless rates of more than 20%. But in 2013 a combination of the biggest tax-rate reductions in the state’s history and a gutsy but controversial unemployment-insurance reform supercharged the state’s economy and has even helped finance budget surpluses.

As Wells Fargo’s Economics Group recently put it: “North Carolina’s economy has shifted into high gear. Hiring has picked up across nearly every industry.”

The tax cut slashed the state’s top personal income-tax rate to 5.75%, near the regional average, from 7.75%, which had been the highest in the South. The corporate tax rate was cut to 5% from 6.9%. The estate tax was eliminated.

Next came the novel tough-love unemployment-insurance reforms. The state became the first in the nation to reject “free” federal payments for extended unemployment benefits and reduce the weeks of benefits to 20 from 26. The maximum weekly dollar amount of payments, $535, which had been among the highest in the nation, was trimmed to a maximum of $350 a week. As a result, tens of thousands of Carolinians left the unemployment rolls.

In an interview at the governor’s mansion, Gov. Pat McCrory tells me that when he took office in January 2013 he looked at the data and knew “we couldn’t stay on the course we were on. We had the highest unemployment benefits and yet at the same time businesses were routinely complaining they couldn’t find workers until benefits ran out. We heard a lot of stories of workers waiting until benefits ran out before going back to work.” In sum, the state was paying people not to work.

While these measures were passing the legislature, the state capital boiled over with rancorous political rallies, called Moral Mondays, designed to block the “cruel” GOP agenda. Rev. William Barber II, one of the protest organizers, lambasted Republicans for making the Tar Heel State a “crucible of extremism and injustice.” The national media piled on with claims that the Republican agenda cut taxes for the rich while slashing benefits for the poor.

Then a funny thing happened. After a few months, the unemployment rate started to decline rapidly and job growth climbed. Not just a little. Nearly 200,000 jobs have been added since 2013 and the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.5% from 7.9%. There is a debate about how many of North Carolina’s unemployed got jobs and how many dropped out of the workforce or moved to another state. But the job market is vastly improved and people didn’t go hungry in the streets. On the Tax Foundation index of business conditions, North Carolina has been catapulted to 16th from a dismal 44th since 2013.

The most recent news will make many other governors jealous. The state didn’t take the extra federal benefits—which require repayments later to the feds—and it cut the weekly benefits. So the state government has been able to pay back $2.8 billion in unemployment-insurance money owed to the feds, and it now has a trust-fund surplus. This means it will be able to provide employers with at least $500 million in cuts from the state and federal unemployment tax on payroll over 18 months.

This comes at a time when other states are having to raise payroll taxes to pay off the loans for the rich benefits they doled out in the recession and its aftermath. The lesson: Handouts from the feds are never free.

An even bigger surprise—even to supporters—is the tax cut’s impact on revenue. Even with lower rates, tax revenues are up about 6% this year according to the state budget office. On May 6, Gov. McCrory announced that the state has a budget surplus of $400 million while many other states are scrambling to fill gaps.

This is the opposite of what has happened in Kansas, where jobs have been created but revenues have fallen since the top personal income-tax rate was cut from 6.45% in 2012 to 4.6% today and the income tax for small business owners who file as individuals has been eliminated. North Carolina’s former budget director, Art Pope, says one difference between the two states is that “we cut spending too. Kansas didn’t.”

The story gets better. Because North Carolina built in a trigger mechanism that applies excess revenues to corporate-rate cuts, the business tax has fallen to 5% from 6.9%, and next year it drops to 4%.

You won’t hear much about this in national news media, where the preferred story line is that tax cuts don’t work because they were followed by budget deficits in Kansas. In North Carolina, policies to reduce taxes and stop paying people for not working have created jobs and surpluses. Mr. Pope says: “I wish people criticizing Kansas would look at what’s happened here.”

Mr. Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.