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White believes in gains

Sen. Stan White, D-Dare, (left) said that some decisions by the Republican-controlled legislature could result in Democratic gains in November. White was the keynote speaker at the Beaufort County Democratic Women on Thursday. (WDN Photo/Betty Mitchell Gray)

Sen. Stan White is optimistic about Democratic gains in November and believes the party will gain enough seats in the state Senate to block any efforts by Republicans in that chamber to over-ride any gubernatorial veto.

This election is “extremely important” to the people of North Carolina, White, D-Dare, said in an interview with the Daily News on Thursday.

He was in Washington to speak to members of the Beaufort County Democratic Women at the monthly meeting of that group.

If the Democrats can gain three seats in the state Senate, the GOP members of that chamber will lose their ability to over-ride, on their own, any vetoes of legislation made by Gov. Bev Perdue, White said.

That means the Republicans will have to consult their Democratic counterparts about any actions they take in the 2013 legislative session, unlike the current legislative session when the Democrats have had little influence over Senate action.

“The Democratic senators would have a voice,” he said. “At least there would be discussion and negotiation with us.”

White recently completed his first year in office and is unopposed for the Democratic nomination in May.

White was appointed to represent the 1st Senate District — which includes Beaufort, Camden, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Gates, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties — following the resignation of Sen. Marc Basnight in December 2010.

White, who owns Stan White Realty and Construction on the Outer Banks, is a former Dare County Commissioner and board chairman and a former member of the N.C. Board of Transportation. He attended Manteo High School and is a graduate of East Carolina University.

White told the Daily News he was surprised by the amount of partisanship in the N.C. General Assembly and said he had expected legislators to be more willing to work across party lines than they had in the 2011 session.

White also took issue with some of the decisions made by the Republican majority last year that, he said, “shortchanged education, the elderly and young people.”

“Government can and should be smaller,” he said. “But there were too many wholesale cuts made in the state budget without a clear understanding of what those cuts would mean to the people of North Carolina.”

He cited the elimination of the one-cent sales tax that led to cuts in public education across the state, the efforts by the GOP majority to delay unemployment benefits and the GOP plan to raise and impose tolls on the state’s ferries as instances of “bad governance.”

He also noted that the decision to move the ferry reservation system from the DOT had resulted in the loss of jobs in eastern North Carolina while increasing the cost to operate that system.

He said that many of these decisions give Democrats statewide sufficient ammunition to use against the Republicans in the November election.

“Once the primary is over, then the gloves will come off,” he said.

White also said he will fight to preserve a road construction-funding formula, known as the “Equity Formula,” that dictates the way road-construction dollars are spent in North Carolina. It was adopted in 1989 as part of legislation that established the Highway Trust Fund and, generally requires a portion of road construction money be evenly divided among these seven regions, regardless of population.

The formula has come under fire recently by some lawmakers from the more urban areas of the state.

“Without the equity formula, the northeast is dead in the water,” he said.

And he expressed concern about the trend — following the most recent redistricting of state legislative districts — to concentrate power in the urban areas of the state.

White noted the diversity of the district that he represents that extends from Corolla in the northeast to Aurora and Chocowinity to the south.

But he said that, despite that diversity, people in the district share a common goal of making the state and the region a better place to live.

White, along with other members of the state legislature, is scheduled to return to Raleigh in two weeks for a brief time and then in mid-May for the short session to tweak the budget.

He hopes that the state’s budget shortfalls of recent years behind it and that significant cuts in programs and services will not be needed this year.

“Our folks have suffered enough,” he said.