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Archive for July, 2009

A well done video highlighting the flaws of government-run healthcare from “Let Freedom Ring”

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The jobs keep leaving

A recent release by the United State Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that over the last year, “jobless rates were higher in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.” This comes as no surprise and confirms what everyone knows.

According to the report, “nonfarm payroll employment decreased in 39 states and the District of Columbia, increased in 10 states, and was unchanged in one state.”

The largest over-the-month increases in employment occurred in North Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas and Montana.

In Delaware, unemployment reached 8.4%, a series high for the state. In June, 2008, unemployment in Delaware stood at 4.6%. Between June, 2008 and June, 2009, unemployment increase by 3.8%.

Construction jobs decreased by 4,100; trade, transportation and utilities jobs decreased by 4,900; financial activities jobs decreased by 1,600; and professional and business services decreased by 300.

Education and health services jobs increased by 200 while leisure and hospitality  jobs remained constant.

In contrast to figures showing government employment had grown between May, 2008 and May, 2009, the BLS report indicates that government employment in Delaware actually shrank between June, 2008 and June, 2009 decreased by 500.

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A new report by the Rockefeller Center for Government shows that Delaware’s tax revenues are continuing to decline. These figures forecast yet another budget showdown next year.

From January through March of this year, the personal income tax revenues are down 3.5% (only lower than New York and New Jersey in the mid-Atlantic region).

Non-farm employment is down by 4.2% over the same period – accounting for the largest decline in the region.

The report also ranks the states on percent change in economic activity using data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Over the last year, Delaware’s economic activity has declined by 9.2% (the U.S. has a whole dropped by 3.3%). Delaware is tied for the seventh largest decrease over this time period. Over the past three months economic activity in the state has decreased by 2.7% which continues to be among the largest drops in the nation.

The direction of the national economy is out of the hands of our state legislature and our governor. We’ll see if they decide to start making moves to jump start it locally. With the legislature being out of session until January, how bad could they possibly make things?

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On Friday evening, I received a report on Governor Markell’s performance audits in response to the FOIA request I submitted on June 29, 2009. The Governor’s office also release the report to the media (and presumably) the public at large. So, hopefully a larger number of people are now able to see the report.

I’ll be summarizing the report on this blog shortly. It can be viewed here.

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What is card check?

Find out at this cool new site:  http://www.whatiscardcheck.com/

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Yesterday, the Dover Post featured DelawareSpends.com in an article on open government and the movement’s gaining momentum in Delaware. Check it out at CaesarRodney.org or at the Dover Post.

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Following the 2009 legislative session, the Caesar Rodney Institute submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to Governor Markell’s office requesting an update and any results of the Governor’s performance audits, which the Governor has cited in recent days and weeks. CRI delayed its request until after the last minute deal-making of the session had come to an end. The request was sent to Markell’s chief of staff Thomas McGonigle both in email and in hard copy form. Sadly, over ten days have gone by and Mr. McGonigle has not even acknowledged receipt of the FOIA. This week, CRI re-submitted the request, again with no response. Follow up phone messages to Mr. McGonigle also went un-returned.

The lack of response to these requests for an update on the progress/status of the performance audits are troubling at best. Since the end of the legislative session, Governor Markell has announced plans to eliminate the Department of Finance by merging its duties and employees into other government agencies. It is likely that this move was made because something indicated to the Governor and his team that such a move would help right-size state government in light of the ongoing economic dilemma and the expected worsening of the state’s fiscal troubles in coming years. Knowing where the performance audits stand and more importantly, implementing the recommendations are key to getting Delaware on the right track. Whats more, the sooner the findings are released to the public, the sooner Delawareans can provide input and feedback on any proposed changes.

The non-response from the Governor’s office may indicate that either the audits are not ongoing or that he is unwilling to share this information.

The audits are a much needed undertaking for the state and the Caesar Rodney Institute is very much interested in the Governor’s findings. We want to see where cost savings can be made beyond the elimination of the Department of Finance. The sooner the results of the audits are made public, the sooner the public can examine them and weigh in. We eagerly await the administration’s honoring of our FOIA request so that the public at large can continue to assist the Governor through this time of remarkable change.

UPDATE, July 16, 2009

Today, CRI received an email from the Governor’s office acknowledging receipt of the above mentioned FOIA request (13 working days following the initial email request). They are reviewing the request and will be back in touch.

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