Tension is inherent in the relationship, but, for each, the other is often the 500-pound gorilla.
Acknowledging that, here’s a list of a dozen things we’d like to see Gov. Markell and the General Assembly consider in 2015. Some of these may be in the works, some may not be at all, some may be underway but not just disclosed or known to the public:
Three are related to Public Finance…
- Strategic Focus to State of Delaware Public Funding “going forward”, with a plan for the next decade or two in terms of Balanced Budget, a rational approach to State spending, and particularly on the revenue side to finding funds;
- Markell Motor Fuel Tax to Fund Highway Infrastructure should be passed. It’s a user-paid fee, not updated for decades, and it appropriately places the cost burden of such infrastructure on those who use it, and it should be used just for capital transportation needs, not as some kind of “slush fund” as too often it has been; and
- 100% Full Funding of all Public Pensions (which helps taxpayers see the commitments that policy-makers have made in their names), with a longer-term move to replace Public Pensions with the 401(k)-type plans on which most of the Citizen taxpayer customers of the public employees already rely.
Three are related to Economic Development…
- Strategic Redefinition for the longer term of the “Delaware Advantage”, the lodestone of Incorporations, Public Law and Chancery Court, Tax Policy and other benefits that have allowed Delaware to be the Lichtenstein of the US in providing value to non-Delaware stakeholders in leveraging Delaware’s sovereignty and services, in a way that exports part of our tax burden;
- Comprehensive Economic Development Plan by the State should be centralized focus to include counties and municipalities, “fixing” conditions that inhibit entrepreneurship and growing Delaware’s attractiveness as a business home; and
- Expansion of the State’s Port of Wilmington, with a revisit to the concept of privatization of its management.
Three are Quality of Life…
- Comprehensive Education Reform that makes Delaware a destination to which people move for Public School Quality, rather than move away from, with Charter Schools included and funded, strong accountability, and focus on drop-out prevention as a cornerstone to Work Force Development and Human Capital Issues;
- Public Safety Strategy for City of Wilmington that sheds its Murder Town USA experience and image in favor of community revitalization; and
- Comprehensive Strategy for Reentry from prison to the community, the low-hanging fruit of reducing incarcerated populations and moving people off street corners and to work.
A fourth category is “taxpayer protection,” to reduce the costs of Government…
- Better Public Spending Management, e.g., Medicaid spending seems to be fastest-growing in the region, paid at 200%-600% of the poverty level, and at some point Government must address the need to fix issues rather than paper over them with transfer payment checks redistributed from people who work;
- Revisit Prevailing Wage on Public Projects, which overstates market rates in the 40% range, often netting 15% cost increases in total project costs that taxpayers must subsidize; and
- Right-to-Work Reform, where union focus exacerbates an adversarial workplace rather that building the win-win-win cooperation between employees and management needed in the new 21st Century workforce.
A dozen initiatives, a dozen thoughts that deserve and warrant consideration.
This is a “clip and save” for Delaware business leaders. So, in the 2015 New Year, when you run into your legislator in the supermarket or at the YMCA, and some one of them asks “what can I do to help?”, well, then…
Here’s the list that you want to recite.
Best wishes from all of us at DBT for health, happiness and prosperity in 2015!!