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Posts Tagged ‘Delaware’

Delaware spends more than 46 other states for per-capita spending per resident, at nearly $9,800 per person per year (National Association of State Budget Officers and the Kaiser Family  Foundation). The News Journal decided to explore this topic in an editorial:

Tax dollars not buying progress for Delaware

How much is it going to cost?

That’s a question we ask ourselves almost daily, whether we’re at Wawa for gas or on amazon.com for, well, you name it.

That’s a question we rely upon our lawmakers to answer when it comes to the major issues facing Delaware.

Lawmakers asked those questions on Thursday.

First, the Board of Education declined to approve the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s plan in part because board members want clearer cost estimates.

Then, after Gov. Jack Markell’s final State of the State address, some lawmakers wondered if taxpayers are already spending too much on education.

Based on the health of our state, the question shouldn’t be “How much is it going to cost?” Rather, we need to start asking “What are we getting in return?”

Indeed.

Let’s hope this year our public decision-makers figure out how to balance thew budget without negatively impacting our lives or the future of the state.

Do you believe we’re getting our money’s worth from state spending? Why or why not?

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Rebecca Friedrichs. (Photo by Christi Ransom)

photo Christi Ransom, Washington Post

The National Right to Work Committee has been very active in the national movement to bring Paycheck Protection to American workers. One case the entire nation is following is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case which could essentially place Right to Work/Paycheck Protection as protected by the U.S. Constitution for every state everywhere, including states like Delaware which currently do not guarantee a worker’s right to not pay union dues and not receive union benefits.

The video below is from YouTube and discusses the case, as well as the implications depending on how the Court could rule.

here’s the link to their blogpost in full in full:

http://www.nrtw.org/en/blog/right-work-friedrichs-01122016

Which way will the court rule? What would happen if all of Paycheck Protection became national law?

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DuPont Undergraduate Scholarship | CPSDA | SportsRd.org ...

From CNBC:

“Sources told CNBC that a potential tie-up between the storied chemicals behemoths would be structured as a merger of equals.

The expected deal, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday night, would likely be followed by a breakup of the combined entity, with separate businesses created to house the agricultural, materials services and specialty products operations.”

Read here for more.

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image: innotribe.wordpress.com.

We published a podcast and a new article featuring CRI Policy Director Dave Stevenson where he criticized the EPA and DNREC for their continued efforts to enforce their unneeded regulations on Delaware residents and business owners of large industrial factories.

DNREC is another example of a government agency which exists primarily to exist. Right now they alternate between: warning of the dangers of Sea Level Rise with Apocalyptic warnings that most of Delaware will be underwater within 85 years (really 45 just to get the ball rolling) unless we “do something”. And the “something” ALWAYS is more government regulation over our lives; and creating new regulations so those who work there making regulations can assure the public they are, in fact, working.

It’s for this reason DNREC will not be pleased if you knew that we as a state have met all our EPA air quality requirements for 2030, and it’s only 2015. Due to a mixture of government regulation over pollutants, a switch from coal to natural gas and in some places nuclear power, and new innovations in technology which reduce pollutants produced, we have succeeded in making our air clean and safe to breath, even for those with respiratory problems. Normally, this would call for a celebration or a recognition of accomplishments, and a refocus by the government to make sure pollution levels are kept manageable- by both the public and private sector. In other words, act as an arbiter, which is what government is primarily there for, to take on a role there is no way the private sector could reasonably do fairly.

However, if you think DNREC’s leaders will shake hands, hold a pizza party for their employees, and close up shop, or at least reduce their budget, you’ve just fooling yourself (perhaps you’re waiting to be added to Delaware’s medical marijuana list?). This report, which is already out, will not be published by DNREC until next year. Expect them not to acknowledge our success at cleaning the air, and instead to continue pushing for new regulations on the private sector. The agency wants as few people to know that we’ve a) met our environmental goals and b) we really don’t have any major problems DNREC can do anything about. Admitting to either a or b above means admitting they can operate on a smaller budget. And you know how government agencies feel about having their budget cut.

The problem with what DNREC is doing is, the regulations are making Delaware an increasingly expensive place to live and for large industrial companies to maintain factories. Case in point, the closing of the Evraz Steel Plant, the Chemours Edge Moor plant and the fact that neither the GM nor the Chrysler plants were ever re-used by manufacturers to create the kind of blue-collar jobs Delaware once relied heavily on. Paycheck Protection for workers and tax code reform are important. But energy prices are a major, if not the primary, reason Delaware has lost about half of its private sector union membership and seen wages stagnate or decline for most private sector workers.

It’s a shame that good, hard-working people are going to suffer higher electric bills, reduced access to clean, alternative energies, and loss of job opportunities as businesses find operating in Delaware (without government handouts) simply too expensive all so certain state agencies can continue to justify their jobs and spending. However, unless DNREC backs down on some of their new proposed regulations, that’s what going to happen. And in that case, Dave will continue to double down on DNREC, and we at CRI will continue to stand for energy policies which keep our environment clean and lower government regulations.

CRI does not claim any credit for photo and we don’t endorse or not endorse Dominos Pizza.

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Settlement stipulates that Delaware’s renewable energy program must even the playing field for out-of-state companies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 21, 2015

 MEDIA CONTACT: Geoff Holtzman | geoff.holtzman@causeofaction.org | 703-405-3511

WASHINGTON – Today, Cause of Action is pleased to announce that a federal court in Delaware has approved a settlement agreement between our client, FuelCell Energy, Inc., and Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Delaware state utility officials regarding the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act (REPSA).

Under the terms of the settlement, Delaware’s Public Service Commission (DPSC) must now allow competition across state lines with respect to fuel cell manufacturers, in compliance with the commerce clause of the United States Constitution.

Cause of Action Executive Director Daniel Epstein issued the following statement:

“Today is a great day, not only for clean energy manufacturers, but for innovators and entrepreneurs everywhere who wish to compete on an even playing field. This settlement should send a message to government officials that fair interstate competition is a cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution. Cause of Action is proud to have played a role in reaching this agreement, and we will continue to fight hard in the name of economic fairness.”

BACKGROUND:

In a 2012 complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, Connecticut-based FuelCell Energy alleged that it was disadvantaged by the DPSC‘s special tariff awarded under REPSA to an in-state energy manufacturer and the associated State financial support for establishing in-state manufacturing that was offered to only one select company by the Governor of Delaware, without any prior public notice or bidding process.

FuelCell Energy, a global fuel cell company that designs, manufactures, installs, operates and services efficient and affordable stationary fuel cell power plants, argued that Delaware’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act, which was amended in 2011, violated the commerce clause of the United States Constitution, which prohibits state laws that discriminate against out-of-state competition.

Under REPSA, the State of Delaware only allowed bids on a State fuel cell project from a fuel cell company that agreed to establish manufacturing in the State, and the State provided financial incentives to support construction of the manufacturing facility, resulting in a sole-source contract rather than a competitively bid contract.

In April 2014, the District Court permitted FuelCell Energy to proceed with its constitutional claim.

The settlement agreement that we are announcing today will level the playing field for all out-of-state fuel cell manufacturers wishing to compete for business in the state of Delaware. Prior to this settlement, out-of-state fuel cell power plant manufacturers were prohibited from bidding on REPSA-funded incentives for fuel cell power generation projects, a violation of constitutional prohibitions on state-legislated discrimination against out-of-state businesses.

Cause of Action is a non-profit, nonpartisan strategic oversight organization committed to ensuring that government decision-making is open, honest, and fair.

CRI’s views: Although CRI was not involved in this lawsuit, we were very much supportive of it. Bloom Energy is a perfect example of crony capitalism, where over half a billion taxpayer dollars were promised to a company whose technology was not only unproven to work, but actually was proven to be even more polluting than the alternative solution, which was to build more natural gas pipelines and transmission stations in Delaware. Bloom did not even have to go through a competitive process to obtain the grant; it was awarded to them.

We hope this lawsuit will serve as a notice to Delaware’s state government that crony capitalism is not the answer to providing clean, affordable energy to Delawareans. We should support proven, reliable methods such as natural gas and nuclear power to reduce our carbon emissions and keep electric rates affordable. For more information on our energy plan, visit caesarrodney.org and click on the Center for Energy Competitiveness tab under “issues”.

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Originally published at caesarrodney.org

The cost of healthcare in Delaware is again rising rapidly.  It is looming as a major budgetary issue for the State of Delaware current employees and pensioners. Delaware’s Medicaid budget is increasingly strained. There is a steady flow of articles in the News Journal about the rising cost of health insurance, the rising cost of pharmaceuticals, and the rapid rise in both co-pays and deductibles for patients. There are, however, a few elements in play that have been overlooked, and may have significant effects in the short-term on the overall costs of both insurance and actual healthcare delivery.
While it is abundantly obvious to everyone that utilizes healthcare services that both co-pays and deductibles have risen in an effort supposedly to keep the cost of the overall premium down, the complaint has been made that this discourages the use of health insurance for routine care because of the high out of pocket cost. This is only a part of the problem.
While it is true that discouraging the use of healthcare services saves money for the insurance carrier, there is another side to this disincentive. I am referring to a phenomenon that we see frequently in medicine. Patients, who are usually quite economically aware of the deductible are also very aware that once the deductible has been met, all further healthcare is essentially free for the rest of the year until their deductible resets.
As a consequence, those who have had some healthcare incident recently often then seek out other elective healthcare treatments, medications, and surgery they might otherwise postpone. “I might as well get it done now under this year’s deductible.” Whenever there is an uptick in elective medical services, there is also an uptick in the sheer number of expensive adverse outcomes, although the percentage still may be very small.
Thus costs to the insurer go up. We are seeing this more frequently in our office this year and it is very common toward the end of the year that our services for elective surgeries become highly demanded. In common terms, the patients want to get the elective surgery done before the end of the year when their deductible resets. This is a strong economic motivation.
Quite obviously this will cause a substantial increase in overall costs to Medicare, Medicaid, and the health insurance industry.  All three of these entities have responded to the increasing costs of expanded coverage of the population by increasing the scrutiny over authorized services and increasing the frequency of denials of authorization, in short, rationing services.
The former of these two phenomena, elective utilization of health services after meeting the deductible, tends to raise overall spending on healthcare. The latter, rationing, of course, does the opposite and tends to lower overall expenditure. The question of which will be the dominant effect will be answered by the insurance actuaries when the next year rates are published. Most anticipate substantial rate increases.
There is, however, another phenomenon that we are seeing increasingly. This is the absolute lack of access to physicians. Increasingly, fairly young physicians are retiring from practice for a host of reasons. Dr. Ezekial Emanuel, one of Obamacare’s chief architects, famously said last year on television when asked about this phenomenon that “They will have to work. We will make them”. It turns out not to be true. What turns out to be reality is that doctors will not work under those circumstances and it further turns out that many doctors, especially those who are older and more experienced, easily have the wherewithal to retire.
In addition to this there is the phenomenon of “Community Care Plans”. These are Medicaid plans offered through the Obamacare exchange. In our office we have been getting dozens of phone calls from people asking whether we participate in these plans and if we know anybody who does participate in these plans. The truth is there is a very thin panel of doctors. By my count, looking at the Delaware panel of doctors for United Healthcare “Community Care”, fully one third of the listed entities were either not doctors, were duplicate listings, or were the names of facilities. Most of the family practices on the list are closed to new patients.
In my specialty, Orthopaedics, there are six surgeons listed who are all based at Crozier Chester Hospital in Pennsylvania. In short, there is very limited access to contracted physicians and surgeons. The net result is that the patient’s have a heavily subsidized health insurance card which is not capable of giving them access to healthcare except under convoluted circumstances, usually the Emergency Room. This is of course a very effective mechanism for United Healthcare to control its costs and continue to receive subsidies from both the federal government and the State of Delaware who offers these plans. The State can then say it has expanded the pool of people with health insurance even though that insurance is unusable.
The actual number of previously uninsured people now receiving preventative care is surprisingly small. As the Oregon experiment demonstrated with over a decade of data, the addition of Medicaid insurance to the uninsured population does not change their pattern of choice of the emergency room for their care. In fact, the net result was quite the opposite, emergency room utilization increased. It is not yet clear if that is happening or will happen in Delaware but similar efforts in both Massachusetts and Vermont have had identical outcomes to Oregon.
The news is not bad for everyone. Large hospital systems are suddenly thriving because their previously uninsured patients are now covered by Medicaid. The insurance industry is consolidating and the large carriers are reaping windfall profits from subsidies. For the moment, Delaware continues to have its state Medicaid insurance program subsidized by the federal government.
Soon enough though, federal Medicaid subsidies to Delaware will cease and the full burden of cost will return to the Delaware budget. The insurance industries will be squeezed by the “Death Spiral” as healthy patients decline to purchase the ever more expensive policies and only the expensive chronically ill remain in the insurance pool. In 2018 penalties, fees, and taxes are set to essentially end the health insurance industry as we know it.  Medicare has not yet been reformed and its insolvency has been accelerated by almost a decade. Small hospital systems will consolidate into large systems but will become de facto accountable care organizations, responsible for all community health, but presumably with highly restricted budgets based upon an insolvent single payor. Hospital care is costly and limited access to care is inevitable.
The “Affordable Care Act”, clearly misnamed, appears to be yet another example of “The Uncannily Predictable Law of Unintended Consequences”. Acronym TUPLUC.
C.D. Casscells, MD
Director, Center for Healthcare Policy

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Bernice Whaley, director of the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), recently provided a glowing assessment of Delaware’s economy in a News Journal article. Ms. Whaley cites a current unemployment rate of 4.7% and growth over the last two years of 4% in Delaware jobs and 6.5% in personal income. And she notes recent increases in high technology employment in the state.

It might be helpful to put these statistics in perspective relevant to the average Delaware household.

The Delaware unemployment rate has thankfully fallen from a high of 8.7% in 2009 to 4.7% today. Two things are worth noting. First, in the year prior to the recession the state’s unemployment rate was 3.4%. Second, according to the most recent Census data, the percent of Delaware residents age 16 to 64 working dropped from 80.7% in 2009 to 76.7% in 2013. In other words, one major reason for a lower Delaware unemployment rate is that a large number of working age individuals have simply stopped looking for employment.

Total jobs in Delaware have expanded by almost 4% (2% per year) over the past two years. While it took more time to get there, this is similar to the job growth rate following the last recession in Delaware. Many of the jobs being added, however, are lower paying positions in such industries as temporary services and restaurants. The result from the Census is that between 2009 and 2013 the inflation adjusted median earnings of working Delaware residents with a high school degree has dropped 7% while that of residents with a bachelor’s degree or more has dropped almost 3%.

The earnings of Delaware workers are on average moving backwards.

Delaware personal income has grown at least 6.5% over the past two years. This compares to 13.8% growth following the last recession. More disturbing, the slowest growing component of Delaware personal income during the past two years has been earnings by residents while the fastest growing component has been transfer payments (e.g., Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, TANF).

Finally, growth in high technology industries in Delaware is positive, but it provides few opportunities for the almost two-thirds of working age Delaware residents who have less than an associate’s degree. Tests of Delaware public school students from 4th grade through high school evidence that the majority of students are not proficient in reading or math.

Obviously it is the job of DEDO to be positive and sell Delaware. And in all fairness DEDO has little control over the poor performing public schools, the green energy policies that have driven Delaware electric rates 35% above the nation, and the lack of a right-to-work law.

Nevertheless, a victory lap seems premature.

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employeefreedom.org

August 16-22 is National Employee Freedom Week, an annual national campaign that informs union members about their workplace rights, specifically their right to decide if they want to be union members. NEFW consists of a record 101 organizations in 42 states. CRI is one of those 101 groups and Delaware is one of those 42 states.

This week brings a lot of hand-wringing from ardent union supporters and leaders, who are concerned about having as many union dues-payers as possible, even to the detriment of their own members. Within minutes of promoting #EmployeeFreedom on Twitter, we were bombarded with attacks such as:

  • “what a moronic statement they do decide if they want to unionize! They vote YES!”
  • “removes the right to unionize public employees. Get your facts in order before you advocate “.
  • And our favorite, “ = for oligarchy control over women”.

Let’s be clear about why CRI supports Right to Work. We have no interest in denying people who want to unionize the right to do so. We do not dispute the benefits unionization once brought to this country, in making work conditions better for millions of workers who were exploited by unscrupulous corporate bosses. If you want to know what we mean, visit a coal mine when you can and learn about the horrible manner in which employees were treated worse than animals, exploited to death. Their efforts led to changes in government law and nowadays treating employees like cattle is legally impossible, not to mention bad PR.

However, over time, unions became less about making the workplace safer and more about making money, both for workers and for union bosses, at the expense of business owners or the taxpayers. We will not even go into details about the money laundering for political purposes which offends a lot of union members, who don’t want any of their dues money going to political causes, especially ones they do not agree with. Do not be fooled by union talk about not giving money to candidates or causes. They do so, just often via PACs or other loopholes.

Over time, many union rank-and-file became dissatisfied with their union for one reason or another. Some didn’t like the union politics. Others did not feel as though they were receiving adequate benefits for the dues they pay. Some may simply have thought they could negotiate for themselves better and didn’t want to pay someone else to negotiate for them. Some others don’t like some of the union practices, such as unions which insist on promotions by seniority and not by merit, or “paying your dues first”.  Others may have seen the hurting economy around them, and realized that labor unions were becoming part of the problem (for proof, look at the auto industry.)

Meanwhile, private sector union membership is falling. In 1990, Delaware had about 49,000 private sector union members. Today that number is closer to 25,000 and going down. General Motors, Chrysler, DuPont, Georgia Pacific, and Evraz Steel have closed factories and left the state, leaving many blue collar workers without jobs.

Forced unionization is not the only reason businesses have left. A lot of it is due to a declining business climate created as a result of poor decisions made by the Executive and Legislative branches. The threat of union bosses coming to manufacturers and demanding exclusive bargaining rights, however, encourages businesses to just move to a state where no employee can be compelled to join a labor union if they do not want to. Some states have seen a decline in union membership, others have seen an increase due to the total number of jobs available. Those who want to be unionized, vote to do so. Those who do not, keep their money and eschew their benefits.

Rather than do right by their members and provide the rank-and-file with membership benefits that create happy union employees, union bosses instead attack the CRI’s of the world and complain we’re doing the Koch Brothers bidding, or something like that. They choose to go negative instead of going positive. Their actions do nothing to encourage their members to want to stay, which is the number one reason membership is declining. Rather than attack us for standing for employee’s rights, they ought to ask themselves WHY a large percentage of union members want to leave. No one should be surprised that Scott Walker got 38% of the union household votes in his 2012 recall election, according to Edison Research.

We all know there is a problem in this country when it comes to creating new job opportunities, and it’s heartbreaking to see so many decent-paying jobs leave our state. We know that so-called “Right to Work” and “Employee Freedom” laws will not solve our blue-collar jobs decline on their own. They are, however, important checkboxes employers look for before investing in a state.

We want more people to see that the solution to having better-paying jobs is to create an atmosphere which encourages businesses to come here and feel like they are wanted, not despised. We want employees to be able to have a say in who represents them and what benefits they receive. For these reasons, CRI proudly supports National Employee Freedom Week.

Union workers: Learn more about your rights here

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There are many things we’ve been critical of in regards to our state government, but here’s one area where the state earned high regards from one of our associates.

The Heartland Institute published their 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card  which shows a serious effort by the state to control need-based-aid, often referred to as “welfare”, and to get people who are able to work into jobs and not let them sit around collecting a check while they smoke Newport 100s while their left-wing Statist advocates claim we need to spend more “to help the poor”. There is no shame in providing a safety net for emergencies, such as homelessness, immediate unemployment, physical or mental disability (which prevents work or basic living functions), and hunger.

However, Statists from both major parties, but one in particular, have built a large web of government agencies which employ tens of thousands of public employees whose salaries and benefits drain the Treasury, and whose agencies continuously provide healthy individuals with a basic lifestyle that traps too many healthy, able-bodied people in a cycle of dependence, basically unable to get off the program to take care of themselves. They are then pressured to keep voting for those who redistribute the wealth, because those elected officials come into poor communities bearing horror stories of people dying in the streets, babies and pets going hungry, just before the world ends, if they vote for a candidate who wants to curb the perpetual welfare state. Have you noticed just how many able-bodied people who begin to receive these benefits keep earning them forever, unless encouraged to go find a job?

We at CRI believe human dignity and satisfaction best come from feeling a sense of worth to society as a whole, and being able to work a job which offers the ability to provide for oneself and one’s family, while also saving for future goals- a nice vacation, a house, a nice car, or whatever one desires and can earn through savings and interest. Even the argument over falling worker wages can be resolved using the principles of freedom- healthy market competition boosts worker’s wages by encouraging more hiring so there are more better-paying jobs than people, rather than what we have today, which is more people than better-paying jobs.

The Heartland Institute gave Delaware an overall grade of A- for welfare reform, going back to 2009 when Governor Markell was sworn in. We are ranked the 8th best state for welfare reform, dropping five places from 2008, largely because Delaware has done little to change its welfare reform policies while other states have improved theirs.

Some of their findings:

  • Delaware got top grades for work requirements and for “cash diversions”  (policies allowing case workers to give applicants lump sum cash payments to meet short-term needs), a B for service integration (organizing state human services in a way that allows coordinated, holistic, “one-stop” delivery of services and connects these services to the local community and employers), and C’s for aid limits and sanctions on those who don’t meet comply with eligibility requirements.
  • We spent $6,378 per recipient in 2013 (latest available data), and had just over 13,000 recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which has declined 75% since 1996.
  • Where Delaware needs to improve is in anti-poverty measures. Close to 25% of Delawareans receive Medicaid, and sadly we have more children in poverty today than we had 20 years ago when the first set of welfare reforms was passed. Finding jobs for the unemployed poor has been an issue for Delaware, and Heartland ranked us 47th in finding jobs for those who are or were receiving TANF benefits. The only area where Delaware got strong ratings for anti-poverty was in having a low teen birthrate.

Heartland recommended Delaware adopt tougher time limits and do more to enforce them, and other eligibility requirements.

Overall, Delaware has done well in managing the welfare reform, in terms of having strong work requirements and helping people quickly and immediately, without losing control over monies disbursed. The state just needs to help people move off the bottom much faster than they are currently doing.

The photo of President Clinton is in the Public Domain and was taken from Wikipedia.

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