Senate budget wins final approval, with ferry tolls
The bill, which passed on a 30-19 party line vote, includes an order to the NCDOT Ferry Division to start collecting new and higher tolls on all routes beginning next month.
Before the final vote was taken Thursday, Sen. Stan White (D-Nags Head) asked Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Eden) to explain the difference between the ferry tolls and a tax.
Berger responded that the toll provision just maintains what they put in the budget last year.
The state House approved its version of a budget for FY 2012-13 that would extend a moratorium on the new and higher ferry tolls. The Senate version includes tolls on the Hatteras-Ocracoke and Currituck-Knotts Island ferries, which differs from the budget passed last summer that exempted those two routes.
An executive order issued by Governor Perdue earlier this year delayed the ferry tolls from going into effect this spring, a move that Republican leaders in the Legislature asked the Attorney General to strike down.
Attorney General Roy Cooper said that Perdue did not have the authority to make such an order, but told the General Assembly they could pass legislation to override the order.
The Senate proposal also cuts by nearly half “gap funding” for the proposed mid-Currituck toll bridge between the mainland and Corolla.
Because of the number of differences between the Senate and House budgets, a conference committee made of members from both chambers will now meet to hammer out a compromise that will then be sent back to lawmakers for approval.
At least one Senator said he feels the ferry toll provisions may not make it into the final version of the budget.
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