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Archive for the ‘General Assembly’ Category

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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A bi-partisan group of legislators have signed on to a new good government bill introduced in the House of Representatives. Sponsored by State Rep. Mike Ramone, House Bill 172 will require individuals elected to elected office, appointed to fill a vacancy in elected state office or those who have filed as a candidate for elective office to disclose the name and address of every nonprofit organization, civic association, community association, foundation, maintenance organization or trade group of which he or she is a member.

This bill, if passed, will be another step in the right direction towards increased transparency in Delaware government.  The state’s Grants-In-Aid bill  funds over $40 million in appropriations to various non-profit organizations ($45,232,021 in FY 08) in the state. Knowing what elected officials, appointed officials and candidates are affiliated with these organizations will help to shed led on connections between the money givers and the recipients.

The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Keeley, D. Short, Booth, Hudson, Kovach and Lavelle as well as Sens. Peterson, Sokola, Sorenson, Bunting and Cloutier.

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Today’s term for the problem the state is facing because revenues do not meet expenses is “budget debacle.” It has also been called a fiscal crisis, budget crisis, fiscal mess, budget mess, revenue shortfall, and so on. I’ve come to the conclusion that “budget debacle” is the most appropriate term because the other terms imply that the situation is not self-induced or that it was unexpected. Sadly, neither is true.

Alas, we are in a pickle and yesterday saw additional solutions proposed by elected officials. Here is the run down:

  • State Senator Colin Bonini wants to suspend legislator CTF monies – funds that they get each year to fix roads, put up neighborhood signs, fix drainage issues etc… in their district. The fund is essentially legal “secure this neighborhood’s vote” money. Bonini says that the suspension will save $16 million/year. Suspending these discretionary accounts is a good idea, even if only temporary. Its sad that his proposal won’t go anywhere.
  • State Representatives Dick Cathcart and Danny Short released a plan that is a meshing of a ton of ideas: increase the PIT for those earning under $60k by 0.5% – to go along with the 1% proposed increase on those earning over $60k. They also include they already proposed increase in the franchise tax; lift the provision that limits spending to 98% of state revenue;  continuing the hiring freeze; aggressively pursuing attrition…and many other provisions that collectively chip away at the budget gap.

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