UPDATE: It’s now
final – free Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry will stay free
By CONNIE LEINBACH
the North Carolina House and Senate override of Gov. Bev Perdue’s
budget veto, Ocracokers are assured that the free ferry between
Hatteras and Ocracoke will remain free.
Republicans, who control
the state legislature for the first time in about 140 years, included a
toll on the state’s free ferries in their budget for the coming fiscal
House Democrats, including Rep. Timothy Spear and Rep.
Bill Owens, who represent the districts that would have been affected
by tolling the free ferries at Hatteras Inlet and Knotts Island in
Currituck County, managed to get an amendment in the House budget bill
to keep the tolls off those routes.
They were also instrumental in getting the amendment into the Senate’s
with Owens and Spear, three other House Democrats pledged to support
the Republican budget, ensuring enough votes in the House to override
Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto.
Perdue vetoed the budget bill on Sunday night.
Senate voted 31 to 19 Wednesday afternoon to override Perdue’s veto,
and the House voted to override shortly after midnight Tuesday in a 73
to 46 vote.
The final budget at $19.6 billion is more expensive
that what the House had proposed, but less expensive than what Perdue
had proposed, which was $19.9 billion.
The education part of the Senate’s budget proposes $10.9 billion, down
from Perdue’s proposal of $11.2 billion.
Sen. Stan White, who represents Ocracoke, said the Senate’s budget was
formed on the elimination of the temporary 1 percent sales tax that was
added three years ago and was set to expire July 1.
revenue will be gone as Republican lawmakers make good on their
promises to repeal this tax enacted by Democrats, he said.
statement vetoing the budget, Purdue stressed that the diminished
education appropriation would harm generations to come in North
Carolina. She had pressed for the retention of the 1 percent
in order to retain the funding to education.
The final budget
restores $300,000 to Hyde County schools, and funding for seven
teaching positions at Ocracoke School is retained through to a special
allocation for small schools.
In addition, funding for the N.C.
Center for the Advancement of Teaching, a teacher training program that
has a building on Ocracoke, was slashed to $3 million, from $6 million.
The House version of the budget had eliminated NCCAT funding entirely.
had breathed a sigh of relief several days ago when the Senate’s
version of the budget passed, and now it is a done deal.
and Tim fought very hard for Hyde and Dare counties,” noted Darlene
Styron, a Hyde County commissioner from Ocracoke. “I’m very
appreciative. I know it wasn’t easy for Tim.”
One of the
Ocracokers who rallied the masses by using social media, Mary Haggerty,
noted that this is the best possible outcome for islanders.
set up the “Say No to Ferry Tolls” Facebook page and within a few days
had more than 1,000 people join with more than 2,000 now.
networking is a very powerful tool in organizing people, and we were
able to make a lot of noise,” she said. “This would not have happened
if it weren’t for all the calls and e-mails generated by the Facebook
and other groups. There are only 1,000 residents on Ocracoke and not
all of them are online. This really proves how passionately people feel
about this place—residents, our Outer banks neighbors and visitors.”
She noted that an important networking tool she used was Twitter, which
many legislators and Gov. Perdue also use.
an instant messaging program, enabled Haggerty to instantly know what
was happening in Raleigh and to update the Facebook page.
have never been involved in politics before because I didn’t think a
few people could bring about real change,” Haggerty continued. “But we
did it, and I am very proud to have been a part of that.”
Phillips, director of Common Cause, a nonprofit group in Raleigh that
lobbies for campaign reform, and who, as a friend of Ocracoke, kept an
eye on the ferry toll issue, noted that Ocracoke should be
from worrying about this for a while since the budget is for two years.
The legislature will have a short session next year from May to July,
he said the ferry toll issue is behind Ocracokers, “They can always do
anything they want in regards to appropriations.”
another islander who helped organize the effort, had said in an earlier
interview that all the friends of Ocracoke worked very hard on the
ferry toll issue.
“It’s a relatively small issue (in the grand scheme of the budget), but
it’s our issue,” he said.
Stories on ferry tolls
win another round in keeping tolls off Hatteras Inlet ferry
Senate pushing for ferry toll at Hatteras Inlet
Amendment excluding the Ocracoke-Hatteras
Ferry from a
toll is threatened
passes budget proposal that excludes tolls on Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry
Charging a toll on Ocracoke-Hatteras ferry
to move forward in Raleigh
Outer Bankers are uniting to oppose tolls on
Charging a toll for Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry
discussion in Raleigh