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Archive for June, 2009

Delaware’s insular law enforcement community recently dedicated a new Mobile Tactical Trainer (MTT) system purchased from General Dynamics – one of the world’s largest defense contractors.

General Dynamics markets the device as a way to counter the “ever increasing threat of urban terrorism.”

According to the vendor, the MTT system consists of a series of movable and reconfigurable trailers and rooms monitored by closed- circuit TV, that “simulates the reality of urban terror.” It will be used by special response teams and other First Responders.

According to a written statement by the Delaware State Police, the MTT will enable “close-in urban operations training for mission success.”

State Police did not immediately respond to a request from the Caesar Rodney Institute for the cost of the MTT system.

UPDATE: Delaware State Police spokesman Sgt. Walter Newton said General Dynamics built the MTT for $428,000.

“The project was funded through Federal grants so all law enforcement agencies in the state could use the facility,” Newton said.

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As our government increases the tax burden we’ll get more of what this video shows. A successful downtown should be vibrant, right?

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It has happened. Well, it’s close to happening. The Delaware House of Representatives voted to increase a large handful of taxes and fees last night in their effort to close the state’s $800 million budget gap.

The legislators will tell you that the effort to close this gap has been an honest mix of spending cuts and tax increases. Not true. From day one, the plan was to raise taxes, with our elected officials only making the least painful of budget cuts.

The increases total $211 million in tax and fee increases. These bills still need to be passed by the Senate. And, there may be more hikes coming today in the last day of the session. As a reminder, these tax and fee increases are purportedly necessary to close the budget gap in the $3.09 billion budget that was introduced for the first time publicly yesterday. That’s right, the 241 page bill was released yesterday to be voted on today.

The increases:

  • Personal Income tax
  • Tobacco tax
  • Gross Receipts tax
  • Public Utility tax
  • Elimination of the exemption for lottery winnings
  • Re-establishment of the death tax
  • License/Document fees
  • Litering fees

One in four Delaware taxpayers are impacted by these increases. As reported in The News Journal, “State labor groups and Democratic Caucus leaders say balancing the budget through hasty cuts – rather than higher taxes – could seriously cripple state government.” (Montgomery, June 28, 2009)

What about hasty tax increases?

What about the obvious cases of egregious spending? (see Mike Chalmers article on the still unused MBNA building purchased for $13.4 million two years ago).

Early this year, Reason magazine noted that a good way to measure fiscal discipline is to calculate the rate of government spending growth versus the rate of population growth plus inflation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2000 and 2008, the population of Delaware grew by 10.2%. Over the same period, there was a 21% increase in inflation. Combined, these figures suggest that Delaware’s state budget growth should have been around 31%. Over this period the budget grew by 41%.

You can still let your voice be heard on the tax increases. To help put a stop to the fiscal recklessness in Dover, contact the State Senate TODAY! You can also contact Governor Markell at 302-744-4101.

Senator Harris McDowell (1)
Office: 302-744-4147
harris.mcdowell@state.de.us
Senator Margaret Rose Henry (2)
Office:  302-744-4191
margaretrose.henry@state.de.us
Senator Robert Marshall (3)
Office: 302-744-4168
robert.marshall@state.de.us
Senator Michael Katz (4)
Office:  302-744-4135
michael.katz@state.de.us
Senator Catherine Cloutier (5)
Office: 302-744-4137
cloutiercathy@aol.com
Senator Liane Sorenson (6)
Office: 302-744-4136
liane.sorenson@state.de.us
Senator Patricia Blevins (7)
Office:  302-744-4133
patricia.blevins@state.de.us
Senator David Sokola (8)
Office: 302-744-4139
david.sokola@state.de.us
Senator Karen Peterson (9)
Office:  302-744-4163
karen.peterson@state.de.us
Senator Bethany Hall-Long (10)
Office: 302-744-4138
bethany.hall-long@state.de.us
Senator Anthony DeLuca (11)
Office: 302-744-4165
anthony.deluca@state.de.us
Senator Dori Connor (12)
Office:  302-744-4164
dorinda.connor@state.de.us
Senator David McBride (13)
Office: 302-744-4167
david.mcbride@state.de.us
Senator Bruce Ennis (14)
Office:  302-744-4310
bruce.ennis@state.de.us
Senator Nancy Cook (15)
Office: 302-744-4237
no email provided
Senator Colin Bonini (16)
Office: 302-744-4169
senator-colin@prodigy.net
Senator Brian Bushweller (17)
Office:  302-744-4162
brian.bushweller@state.de.us
Senator Gary Simpson (18)
Office: 302-744-4134
gsimpson@udel.edu
Senator Thurman Adams (19)
Office:  302-744-4318
thurman.adams@state.de.us
Senator George Bunting (20)
Office: 302-744-4144
george.bunting@state.de.us
Senator Robert Venables (21)
Office: 302-744-4298
robert.venables@state.de.us

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Cap and Trade

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It’s June, the time for weddings, and if certain elected officials in the General Assembly have their way, it will also be the time for paying more to take that walk to the altar.

Yes, when the bride throws her bouquet, our legislators want to catch some cash. Raising the fee for a marriage license is just one of some two-dozen proposals to make it more expensive for folks to live in Delaware. As if propelled by an irresistible tic, the General Assembly looks to raising taxes and fees first — instead of considering more creative solutions to solve the state’s budget problems.

Why can’t the General Assembly do what millions of Americans have done when faced with financial problems:  look around your home, find assets that you don’t need, and sell them?  In Indiana, Governor Mitch Daniels inventoried the state’s assets and generated nearly $9 million by selling excess state cars, planes, and real estate.

In case you think this wouldn’t work in Delaware, did you know that our state owns two marinas!  Since Delaware isn’t launching its own navy, there doesn’t seem to be a pressing need for state support for yachting.

I have no doubt that a comprehensive, transparent inventory (as was done in Indiana) would reveal other unneeded assets that do not support basic state functions.  Of course, this would involve more work than simply passing lots of tax and fee increases, which is probably why the General Assembly hasn’t embraced this idea.

With a June 30 deadline looming to pass tax and fee increases, the time is now to let your legislators know that shaking down Delawareans for more cash is not the answer to our state’s fiscal situation; a leaner government — without marinas — is.

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Delaware Employment

Between May, 2008 and May, 2009, Delaware government employment grew by 300 jobs. Delaware private sector employment shrank by 19,700 jobs. Click here to read more.

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The casual way some in Dover, from the Governor to the House Majority Leader, say “we recognize these are bad choices,” or “everyone will share the burden,” or “there are negatives with any of these options” when discussing the myriad proposed tax increases is disturbing.

As quoted in today’s News Journal, Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf says, “Obviously it’s going to hurt….there’s probably going to be no one out there that isn’t touched.”

This is the problem. The Delaware General Assembly clearly does not understand the harmful impact of all of these tax increases. I’m not sure they realize that there is a bigger picture than balancing the budget (yes, I know it needs to be done, but at the expense of improving Delawareans).

Here are the increases per The News Journal,

  • An increase in the personal income tax. House Bill 264, one of eight revenue bills introduced Monday, would raise the tax from 5.55 percent to 5.95 percent on taxable income from $50,000 to $60,000, from 5.95 percent to 6.95 percent on income from $60,000 to $150,000, and from 5.95 percent to 7.45 percent on income exceeding $150,000. That would raise an estimated $37.6 million.
  • Reinstating the inheritance tax. The tax, abolished in 1999, would be calculated using the rate schedule for state tax credits under the federal law in 2001. That is expected to raise $5 million.
  • Raising the gross receipts tax, often called Delaware’s hidden sales tax. That would raise about $7 million.
  • Raising the public utilities tax on cable TV and other services, and subjecting satellite TV services to the tax. That would raise about $7.1 million.
  • Raising the corporate franchise tax, which would net the state an estimated $127.4 million.
  • Bills to raise the taxes on alcohol and cigarettes were defeated in the House last week, but they remain alive through Thursday, thanks to a parliamentary maneuver by the Democrats. The taxes would raise almost $21 million.”

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