Archive for June, 2016


State support for higher education is slipping with one large exception at the University of Delaware. One department, actually one individual, at the university is slated for a 38% increase according to the latest draft of the state budget.  This is in contrast to the state contribution for university operating expenses falling from about 21% in 2000 to about 12%, according to the University’s 2015 Investment Office Annual Report.

The currently proposed 2017 Fiscal Year proposed budget consists of fifty-nine pages of tables of budget numbers by department, and two hundred and twenty-six pages of “epilogue” language.  The epilogue pages are similar to footnotes and most of it is innocuous and a pretty boring read.  It can also be a place where bad policy goes to hide.

This may be the case with Section 285, page 199, which reads:

Section 285. Section 1 of this Act makes an appropriation to Higher Education, University of Delaware  (90-01-01) for the College of Arts and Sciences. Of this amount, $290,000 shall be allocated to the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy for research supervised by Dr. John Byrne as principal investigator

Yes, while other departments struggle as costs rise faster than state contributions, Dr. Byrne is expecting $290,000 to use as he sees fit, not even with direction for what he is researching.  The transfer effectively raises the earth sciences budget 38%.  Dr. Byrne and the University of Delaware have not responded to requests for comment.  A similar transfer was authorized in the last three year’s budgets but was designated more generally to the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy run by Dr. Byrne.

Unlike specific legislative bills there is no acknowledged sponsor of epilogue language.  However, Dr. Byrne and State Senator Harris McDowell (D – Wilmington North) have worked together for over a decade.  Senator McDowell is Co-Chairman of the Joint Finance Committee that writes the budget, and of the Senate Energy Committee.  Dr. Byrne and Senator McDowell jointly chaired the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) and its Oversight Committee over the last decade.  Dr. Byrne would be expected to consult with Senator McDowell in his role with the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy.  The obvious question is Dr. Byrne getting special treatment in the state budget because of his relationship with Senator McDowell.  Senator McDowell has not responded to requests for comment.

Senator Greg Lavelle (R – Sharpley) commented, “Based on the fact Dr. Byrne’s name is specifically mentioned in the epilogue language is a unique event, and we will be asking questions”.  He went on to say. “It would make one think that authority for use of the funds rests with Dr. Byrne and not the Center for Energy & Environmental Policy”, or the University.

David T. Stevenson, Policy Director

Center for Economic Policy


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Texas has sued the federal government forty-four times since President Obama began his campaign of executive overreach, and has often won in the courts.  The presidential election will offer an opportunity to reverse many of this administrations attempts at over regulation.  Britain, and other members of the European Union have no legal recourse or a direct election to fight back on similar over regulation and overreach by technocrats in the EU.  That was the primary reason Britain voted to leave the EU.

By happenstance I was in the United Kingdom for the run up to the election, and was following the campaign for personal investment reasons.  The chance to talk to people in London and Scotland left little doubt “Leave” would win.  Britain, like America, has a long history of valuing independence and individual freedom.  After all this is where the Magna Carta was signed, and where the only successful attack on the Tower of London fortress was carried out by the common people when military attacks all failed.

The same strains exist in the US and will play a major role in the coming election, including a desire for more control of our borders.  People here are just as tired of senseless rules coming out of Washington as the British were with senseless rules coming out of Brussels.  Look for the same vicious attacks on those who want better immigration controls here as argued by the “Remain” campaign.  You can also expect the same polling bias.  Late polls showed “Remain” leading 52% to 48%, but “Leave” won with 52%.  Betting pools and the trading futures market also badly missed the results.  I suspect some “Leave” supporters lied to pollsters in fear of expressing their real feelings on the matter.

Expect volatility in the stock markets for a time as this vote really was a hinge point in history and it will take a while for things to settle down.  In the long run the world economy will be stronger and we will see specific benefits in the US and the UK.  The UK has one of the fastest growing economies in Europe and is the second largest European economy.  Older voters who supported the referendum remembered the time before the EU and how their country was successful and sovereign.  It will be so again.

There is a lot of press on this issue. For the best analysis I’ve seen follow this Wall Street Journal link:  http://www.wsj.com/articles/brexit-a-very-british-revolution-1466800383

David T. Stevenson, Policy Director

Center for Economic Policy





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Sometimes we have to go beyond Delaware’s borders to protect the pocket books of our residents.  CRI has become a resource in the national fight to oppose taxes and regulations that misrepresents bad policy as critical to improving the environment.  We joined AEA in petitioning Congress to pass this important resolution.

Illegal tactics used by the EPA in drafting the so-called Clean Power Plan have been stayed by the US Supreme Court following a legal strategy encouraged by the CRI team.  The EPA called for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions to gain the agencies approval for individual state compliance plans.  EPA Director Gina McCarthy, and past Department of Energy Assistant Energy Secretary Charles McConnell both have stated the Clean Power Plan will have no impact on global warming but could add billions in energy costs.  McConnell describes how the plan is “all pain, and no gain”, how electric rates could see double digit increases, impact the poor and middleclass the most, and how the emissions savings would be replaced by three weeks output from China.

The resolution opposes the misguided plan to impose these unnecessary taxes.


David T. Stevenson

Director, Center for Energy Competitiveness

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