Archive for April, 2009

I think this was posted a while back, but the site is worth checking out.  You’ll see a very comprehensive list of overtime pay to state employees in Delaware by name of employee. Check it out here.

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Inspector General

Rep. Bill Oberle has reintroduced legislation to create the office of a statewide Inspector General in Delaware. The synopsis of House Bill 134 states that the Inspector General will have “the responsibility to investigate state employees and state agencies for waste, fraud, abuse and corruption, make reports to the Governor and refer to the Attorney General the report findings for possible prosecution.”

Any move to increase oversight and accountability is a good thing. However, the bill does raise one important question:  isn’t this the same thing the State Auditor is supposed to do?

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In a press release sent out on April 23, Wilmington Mayor Jim Baker initiated a plan to layoff approximately 75 unionized city employees. The plan comes in response to the government employees union’s rejection of pay/benefit reductions proposed by Mayor Baker.

From the release, “Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker today directed Chief of Staff William Montgomery to begin the process of identifying and then notifying as many as 75 unionized City employees that they will be laid-off in the FY 2010 fiscal year beginning July 1.”

The release continues, “The Mayor said he has now regrettably been forced to plan for lay-offs because the Presidents of AFSCME Locals 320, 1102, 1102B, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #1 and International Association of Firefighters Local 1590 have rejected his request that the City’s union employees forego salary and step increases next fiscal year while maintaining their current jobs, salaries and benefits.”

The City currently faces at $20 million budget deficit.

In addition the proposed layoffs, “Baker has cut $15 million in proposed or planned City spending and requested $7.2 million in new taxes and fees for City residents and businesses.”

We have noted previously that the City should work to shake its image as anti-business. The move towards increasing taxes on businesses and residents only compounds the unfriendly climate in the city and magnifies the perception of being anti-business. It is no secret that the City needs new business and new jobs…sadly movement towards these goals is not occuring.

In his statement, Mayor Baker said, “The City’s union leadership has now placed some of their members in peril. I did not want a single City employee to lose his or her job. Our employees have done such great work in recent years to improve City services, and I wanted us to be able to maintain the current level of service to citizens, especially in police and fire. I thought that asking union employees to forego salary and step increases in exchange for keeping their jobs was a fair request. I am very sad and extremely disappointed to think I was wrong.”

Mr. Baker hits the nail on the head. It seems as though the unions, in forcing government’s hand, prefer layoffs. The 8% paycut proposed by Governor Markell is strongly opposed by state employees, the union and many others. If this proposal fails, layoffs may result at the state level too.

Any way you cut it, the City, the counties and the State are facing perilous times and most proposals will not be liked by one group or another. But the issues remains that the reason our governments are in the situations they are in is spending. And still, there have been no proposals at restraining spending through the short-, mid- and longer- terms to help guide us when boom times reappear.

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The Wall Street Journal summarizes state proposals to increase taxes.

From the article:  “A free fall in tax revenue is driving more state lawmakers to turn to broad-based tax increases in a bid to close widening budget gaps.”

“At least 10 states are considering some kind of major increase in sales or income taxes:  Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. California and New York lawmakers already have agreed on multibillion-dollar tax increases that went into effect earlier this year.”

With tax revenue falling in every category, states are forced to raise taxes on a larger scale – the usual reliance on obscure fee increases simply isn’t doing the trick in these troubled times.

The article continues to say, “Raising taxes is a perilous proposition for lawmakers, who must balance their states’ budgets every year. Not only do they face political heat for increasing financial burdens during the recession, but added taxes risk worsening their states’ economic problems by, for example, further hobblign consumer spending.”

What remains absent from the debate – both at the federal and state levels – is the call for reforming spending practices. Sadly, no time is better than the present to implement real reform to change the culture of spending that is pervasive in governments throughout the land.

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From The American magazine’s “Datapoints:”

As the global economy spirals down, the “death of capitalism” is being widely proclaimed. But according to a March 2009 Pew Research Center survey , 70 percent of Americans still agree that “people are better off in a free market economy, even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time,” compared to 20 percent who disagree. When the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life asked a similar question in 2007, 70 percent agreed that “most people are better off in a free market economy even though some people are rich and others poor,” compared to 24 percent who disagreed.

Read the report here.


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