During a brief presentation outside the Dempsey Student Center at Sandhills Community College on Wednesday, Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said the state’s coffers have not been emptied by the coronavirus pandemic.
“North Carolina’s economy is actually looking really good right now, particularly compared with some other states,” said Moore, who was invited to speak at the college by the economic development group Moore County Partners in Progress. “If you look around the country, you’ve probably heard that Illinois, New York and some of these other states have huge deficits. Those states were really not in a good position before COVID, and with COVID they’re in a terrible spot.”
About 2.5 million unemployment claims have been filed in North Carolina since the start of the pandemic, with the state Division of Employment Security paying out more than $8 billion in benefits. Still, Moore said the state has avoided “major cuts and tax increases,” and remains in a “good position when it comes to emerging out of whatever economic issues we have as a result of COVID.”
“We still have money; we’re still in the black,” he said. “We were able to use the federal (pandemic relief) funds that came in to cover a lot of the COVID expenses, and even with that we still have roughly $1.2 billion in our savings reserve account.”
Moore was similarly optimistic about the county’s economic outlook. He praised local elected officials for their involvement in making Pinehurst the future site of the U.S. Golf Association’s second headquarters.
“The excitement that’s generated even with COVID and everything is just unbelievable,” Moore said of the USGA project, which is expected to be completed before the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. “It’s going to see us continuing to build on the success that Moore County has had.”
Earlier in his remarks, Moore recognized the many local law enforcement officers in attendance.
“I can’t thank you guys and gals that are here in law enforcement enough for what you do every day: putting on the uniform, standing there on that thin blue line between chaos and order,” he said. “Our North Carolina General Assembly will continue to support law enforcement and make sure that you guys have the resources you need as you move forward, and that we’ll have your back at all times.”
A Kings Mountain attorney specializing in criminal law, Moore has represented the 111th district since 2003 and was elected speaker of the House in 2015. He is being challenged in the general election by Democrat Jennifer Childers, a behavioral specialist with no previous experience running for public office.
“I’m not going to talk politics, but I will tell you that this is a year where (people) on every side of the political aisle are energized and motivated,” Moore said. “I hope everybody, regardless of your political beliefs, goes out and votes. A lot of men and women have died over the years for us to have that right, and that’s a right that we hold sacred and dear.”