If elected, what would be your top three legislative initiatives?
- Delaware’s next governor needs to lead our state through a transition to an innovation economy that will provide Delawareans with well-paying middle class jobs of the future. At the same time, we need to create more opportunities for Delaware’s blue-collar workforce by repurposing industrial sites and retraining workers.
- We also need to improve Delaware’s education system so our teachers and students have the resources they need to ensure students are prepared for a job in the new economy. The recently passed federal education law gives us an opportunity to provide more flexibility to schools and teachers so they’re better able to make our young people college- and career-ready.
- In order for Wilmington, the commercial center of our state, to be successful, we need to stop the violence that plagues far too many neighborhoods in our city. This will take an effort that combines a smarter, and more community-based law enforcement approach with a better strategy for rehabilitating offenders. Even more important is preventing our young people from turning to a life of crime in the first place by providing them with an education that will enable them to be successful.
If elected, what would be the one piece of legislation that you would repeal from this past session?
I believe the Governor has to work collaboratively with the General Assembly while respecting its authority as a coequal branch of government. If elected, I would work to forge a bipartisan working relationship with the state legislature. I would evaluate the laws on the books upon taking office and assess whether there are any I believe need to be amended.
Do you support…
Right to Work legislation, including Enterprise Zones, and if elected, will you work to get the law enacted in Delaware?
No. In all my conversations with Delaware employers or potential employers, I have never heard the “right to work” issue raised as an impediment or incentive for employers to do business here.
Strengthening federal, state and private investment to build an entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem?
Do you support…
Reducing centralized State control over education and giving more autonomy and control over the operation of the education system to local county boards of education?
In favor of consolidating Delaware’s 19 school districts to a smaller number?
While I support this idea in concept, I don’t believe it’s one of the best ways of improving student achievement so it would not be a top priority for me. However, I would look for ways to consolidate administrative functions to enable the more efficient expenditure of education dollars.
The City of Wilmington forming its own school district?
I do not support the recreation of a separate city of Wilmington school district. WEIC has worked hard to develop a plan and funding system that would better serve our city schools. I would work with legislators to determine which elements of that plan should be implemented; I believe improving the way we educate low-income and minority students has to be a priority for the next governor. To that end, I would also create a 21st Century Opportunity Grant that provides additional flexibility in state education funding that gives teachers and principals needed resources and support to implement solutions that work for individual students.
The adoption of measures which would redirect per capita state and local Board of Education administrative costs into the classroom, knowing that Delaware is near the top of the nation in per capita central administration expenditures?
Expanded education choice such as charter schools, education savings accounts, vouchers and homeschooling options?
I believe strengthening our public schools needs to be a priority and I have voted against school voucher programs several times in Congress. However, other schools such as charters schools, Catholic and independent schools, and homeschooling do play an important role in our education system. I think we need to do a better job at learning from the successes and failures of non-public schools and charter schools and applying those lessons to our public school system.
Do you support…
An increase on the Motor Fuel Tax in order to support capacity expansion?
We need a complete fiscal review and a spending and revenue reset, which would determine the right mix of user fees and other taxes to support the services that people in Delaware demand. I agree that we need to fix our state’s infrastructure and come up with a more sustainable funding stream for it. I want to ensure that whatever system we put in place is fair and does not unduly burden those struggling to make ends meet. Before moving to a new type of tax, I would want to thoroughly study the impacts of it and work to understand whether the support exists in the General Assembly to make it into law
The development of additional natural gas capacity and pipelines to Kent and Sussex counties?
The creation of incentives and the easing of hurdles to foster accelerated growth of broadband service Sussex County?
The state of Delaware continuing to force taxpayers to fund beach infrastructure in the face of rising sea levels that threaten continued use of existing beachfront?
We need to strike a balance between protecting commercial and private property, and ensuring that taxpayer dollars don’t go to waste. A lot of beach replenishment money comes from the federal government, but to the extent state dollars are involved, I would thoroughly evaluate the efficacy of each project. In the meantime, I would invest in the state’s climate change mitigation and coastal resilience efforts.
A statewide reassessment of property values?
I support the concept of a statewide property value reassessment. However, we need a complete fiscal review and a spending and revenue reset, which would determine the right mix of user fees and other taxes to support the services that people in Delaware demand.
Elimination of a property tax exemption for qualified senior citizens?
As Secretary of Finance, I helped create the property tax exemption for seniors. It made sense then, when our state was seeing record surpluses. Today, however, we’re facing a much different fiscal situation. We may need to reevaluate tax expenditures in order to combat a budget deficit in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
LEGAL & REGULATORY REFORM
Do you support…
Mandatory and regular across-the-board legislative audits and performance review of all spending units in state government?
Granting broader statutory powers to the Office of the Attorney General to assist the legislative auditor in audit and investigatory programs for all spending units of state government?
A move toward ensuring that State employee benefits are commensurate with the private sector?
State employee benefit costs, particularly healthcare costs, are one of the biggest drivers of state spending. We need to address this growing area of the budget. An important part of the fiscal reset will be looking at these costs and how to keep them under control.
The redevelopment of industrial sites that have lost their grandfathered status under the Coastal Zone Act?
I strongly support the Coastal Zone Act and agree that it is a cornerstone of Delaware’s environmental protection regime. However, some industrial sites that are already in the coastal zone are contaminated. They’re also underutilized. We have a unique opportunity to do two things: to repurpose these sites and create new jobs, and in so doing to clean them up to prevent further contamination of the Delaware River and Bay. We ought to find thoughtful ways to change the Coastal Zone Act to enable us to achieve these objectives.