Delaware Sen. Colin Bonini, running for governor on the Republican ticket, said prosperity could solve all Delaware’s problems — crime, drugs and lackluster schools.
He said companies will bring jobs here if Delaware can fix five things that keep them away — high utility rates, excessive regulation, expensive government, problem schools and no right-to-work laws.
Delaware will have 4 percent less to spend in the 2017-18 budget, according to the Delaware Economic Financial Advisory Council. Bonini calls it a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
“We’ve got plenty of money. It’s just what we choose to do with it,” he said.
Delaware has the fourth-highest per capita government spending of all states, according to the Kaiser Foundation.
Bonini said he would offer early-retirement incentives for state employees to reduce the workforce “humanely.”
He would also focus on health-care costs: “Close to 70 percent of our money is spent on state-employee benefits and Medicaid. We have one of the most generous Medicaid programs in the country, with zero copays or close to it. We certainly want to be sure that people get the coverage they need, but I think we have to review exactly what we’re offering.”
He said better tracking through a smart-card system would track benefit usage and insure tests are not duplicated.
Bonini said he would ask current state employees to pay a little more for their health coverage, but, as he put it, “not a whole lot more.” He would change costs for future employees.
“I want to be very clear the solution should not fall entirely on the state employee,” he said. “We also have to reduce costs on the provider side.”
“The bottom line is the current cost for health care for state employees is unsustainable, and we need a governor who’s willing to have an adult conversation about it,” Bonini said. “ We still want to offer really good health care, but I think we can reduce the costs a bit.”
Many legislators favor cutting the senior citizen tax credit on real estate taxes, but Bonini said he’d keep it. “We don’t need to be raising taxes on anybody. Our economy is tough enough,” he said.
Delaware currently has 19 school districts in three counties. Bonini said that is too many, but he said he doesn’t believe there’s the political will to fight that currently. For now, he would bring accountability down to the building level in every school. “If you get resources literally to the classroom and hold the teachers and principals accountable, I think you’re going to start seeing results,” he said.
He lauded former Washington, D.C., Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who said education systems are too focused on adults and they need to be refocused on children.
He supports capital funding for charter schools, but said the state can’t afford it currently.
Last week, Bonini announced his plan to submit a Senate bill that would prevent any government entity in Delaware from becoming a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants. He said he hopes it would be the first bill numbered when the legislative session opens in January.
Delaware has the eighth-highest per capita violent-crime rate in the country, according to FBI statistics. Bonini said he would support properly conducted stop-and-risk.
Stop-and-frisk is constitutional, but it has been a controversial tactic since a federal judge in New York ruled that the way in which the New York City Police Department conducted stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional because it involved racial profiling.
“I know it’s not politically correct, but safety has to come first and I don’t care if people’s feelings get hurt. We need to pursue whatever policies we can to get the violence down.”
Delaware pays $32,967 to support each incarcerated resident, more than all but seven other states. Bonini said he does not support lower penalties for crimes. He said the people lost in the criminal-justice debate are the victims.
Bonini said more resources should be spent on re-entry programs.
“And I do believe in expungement if somebody has really turned their life around,” he said. “I’m all about second chances. I’m not about fifth and sixth chances.”
Bonini supports legalized marijuana.
“We’ve decriminalized it to the point where it’s de facto legal. Let’s legalize it and regulate it and keep it out of the hands of kids,” he said.
Bonini asked CEOs of companies that chose not to locate in Delaware why they nixed the state. He said they gave five reasons — the schools aren’t good enough, utility rates are too high, it’s not a right-to-work state, there are too many regulations and government is too big and costly. He said he would work toward solving those issues to attract more companies with more jobs. “If we fix those things, I think people will bring their jobs here. I really, really believe that,” he said.
Colin R. J. Bonini
Birthdate: April 14, 1965
Birth Place: Stanford, Ca.
Interesting fact: He is an identical twin. His twin brother Griffin is a Superior Court judge in San Jose, Ca. He has six siblings.
College: Wesley College in Dover.
Parents: Both professors at Stanford University. The Bonini Paradox, which focuses on the difficulty constructing simulations that copy complex systems, is named after his father.
Married to: Dr. Melissa A. Harrington, a neuroscientist at Delaware State University. They met on a plane.
Represents District 16 in the Delaware State Senate since 1994. He is director of marketing for The Bond Agency’s mid-Atlantic region and owner of Alliance Associates, a venture-capital and customer-service firm.
Campaign website: http://colin2016.com/about/