Jason Saine will begin a fourth term representing District 97 in January.
Saine, a Republican, expects to remain on the Finance Committee as Senior Co-Chair pending approval from the Speaker of the House. Since taking on the role, Saine has seen the economy of North Carolina change through economic development, tax reform and budget surpluses. According to Saine, tax reform has provided a better mix of tax options that has resulted in more predictable revenue streams and reduced taxes. That has allowed lawmakers to do better planning and has provided funding for economic development, state workers, higher education and infrastructure. All those factors lend a hand in attracting growth. He pointed to the recent announcements by Lending Tree and Honeywell as examples. Lending Tree plans to expand its headquarters in Charlotte. Fortune 100 company Honeywell will move its global headquarters to the Queen City from New Jersey.
“It’s a huge deal. It’s right here, meaning jobs for people in and around Lincoln County,” Saine said. “Growing the economy has been, I think, our greatest success and is putting us in a place as a state where other states look to North Carolina.”
Despite the county’s growth and proximity to well-paying jobs, Saine thinks that the state’s tier system, which ranks counties by a number of economic factors, could use an overhaul. Formally known as County Distress Rankings by the NC Department of Commerce, counties are ranked by average unemployment, median household income, percentage growth in population, and adjusted property tax base per capita. A county in Tier 1 would be the more economically distressed. Lincoln County is Tier 3, the highest. While that means the county is doing well, Saine said that the downside is that the tier system restricts what Lincoln County can offer in terms of incentive packages put forward by the state to companies that may want to come here. He thinks that changes in the tier system could create more opportunities for growth that could bring higher paying jobs to the area.
Saine plans to re-apply for an appointment to the FCC Intergovernmental Advisory Committee when his current appointment expires in March. Saine introduced a bill in the house that allowed for 5G mobile internet expansion. Its ratification allowed for 5G expansion in rural areas of the state.
“It’s important in terms of education, communication and telemedicine,” Saine said. “It solves other problems. People are able to reach experts online in medical field or education. It can be game changer for communities that may have been left behind in terms of economic development and educational opportunities.”
The Appropriations, Information Technology Committee, which Saine chairs, oversees the 911 Board. Lincoln County recently received a $2 million grant from the board for a new communications center. The new facility will receive technology that improves interoperability between agencies. Saine calls the new technology a game changer.
“Knowing you have back up and interoperability is life saving,” Saine said.
Saine plans to continue work on tax reform and investing in technology in the coming session. He also plans to continue working on behalf of Child Advocacy Centers, calling the work on their behalf, “one of the best things that we do in state government.”
Saine considers himself one of the more fortunate members of the NC House, citing a good relationship with city and county officials.
“As a group of elected people that really do care about where we live,” Saine said, “we’re constantly putting our community in a better standing than we were the day before.”