Caesar Rodney Institute’s Dace Blaskovitz uses data to drive state forward

Dace Blaskovitz
Dace Blaskovitz uses his skills as a broadcast veteran to present “Delaware by the Numbers” to members of the Commercial-Industrial Realty Council of New Castle County, Delaware//Photo by Mike Mika.

By Michael J. Mika

Dace Blaskovitz delivers an 18-minute presentation, relying only on his broadcaster’s trained voice and data to share “Delaware by the Numbers.”

No power points with graphs or pie charts for this speaking tour – just the data.

“Delaware by the Numbers,” is a data-driven review of emerging trends and issues and money challenges confronting the state of Delaware that will be presented to various civic groups throughout 2016.

Blaskovitz, a stockbroker by career, describes his speaking tour as “truly a work of passion.”

“The state is in a precarious situation.  For the first time ever the progressives have to be accountable, because the more you tax, the more you leave things out of the budget,” he said.

The presentation road trip is the brainchild of Blaskovitz and John Stapleford, co-directors of the Caesar Rodney Institute for Institute Center for Economic Policy and Analysis.  They describe their mission to “expose some of the key state of Delaware statistics.”

Last week he presented his talk to a meeting of the Commercial-Industrial Realty Council of New Castle County, Delaware, a nonprofit organization that brings together members of the Delaware Valley community who are in a variety of fields relating to commercial and industrial real estate.

“If numbers could talk,” he told the room of 200, “they’d say we need to overhaul our education system, reduce the tax bite, and establish a Right to Work state.”

Reaction was enthusiastic, but typical to what Blaskovitz said he sees when he makes the presentation.  Most of the questions concerned the state’s education system and how to improve it.

“What I think John and I do so right is we stay clear – or mostly clear – of opinions regarding policy decisions.  The elected will decide how to spend the money,” Blaskovich says, adding, “We hopefully bring data and analysis to the debate.”

The duo has no dream to run for political office; instead they want to “bring the data, analysis and insights to the debate.”

John Stapleford (left) and Dace Blaskovitz
John Stapleford (left) and Dace Blaskovitz are on a mission to bring Delaware data into the business world discussion.

After several presentations – sometimes two to three a week – he believes his message is getting across, because as he talks he notices that nobody seems to be multi-tasking with their electronic devices. They’re listening.

His take?

“I think people are overwhelmed.  They are just unaware.  Their nose tells them it ain’t right, but there’s just dead silence.  It’s not OMG, it’s an ‘Oh My God!’  moment,’’ Dace said about reaction to his speaking tour.

The data he shares covers topics you might expect.

  • The demise of families in Delaware – “Over the last four decades Delaware has become one of the top three or four states with the biggest increase in unwed households with children.”
  • Delaware’s senior surge – “Delaware likes to pay older-in-life folks to come and live in the First State.  Not surprisingly, Delaware residents, as a percentage, who are seniors, exceeds the nation, and in the resort-friendly Sussex County one out of every four residents is now 65 or older.”
  • Delaware’s hidden bombs – Debt. Debt. Debt

He also includes a 60-second tax history lesson and spends time warning about the need for public education reform. He says audience reaction so far has been similar at all the presentations.  Someone will always ask “what’s the pathway?” for solving the problems.

Blaskovitz believes it is “a restructure of the delivery mechanism for Delaware’s public education” to create a more positive impact on the state’s workforce and economy. “The 1,800 professionals JP Morgan plans to hire here by 2018, none of them with children will be living in Delaware,” he said.

The Dow-DuPont merger and subsequent job layoffs caused Blaskovitz to update the presentation earlier this month to reflect the impact on state revenues. The layoffs in tandem with DEFAC’s (Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council) revised revenue estimate for fiscal 2017 concerns him.

“Looking forward,” Blaskovitz warns, “the numbers suggest it’s even going to get worse … DuPont has been downsizing for 20 years … The most recent cuts could be deadly for Delaware. It takes about a year to a year-and-a-half for those reduced tax revenues to show up.  People decide to retire/not retire and take a lesser job – or sell a home – or move.”

As for critics?  “If you’re offended, then you’re offended by the government’s own numbers.  We just do analysis.”


TO LEARN MORE

For more information about the presentation, contact John Stapleford and Dace Blaskovitz at  [email protected]

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