It’s That Time Of Year Again

Legislation Hall It’s the time of year, when in Dover, our Legislators find themselves scrambling to complete another yearly budget.  Of course this year holds new and larger challenges, considering the state, and that means you and me friends, is facing a $400 million spending deficit. Or as I like to call it, the chickens coming home to roost.

You see, for sometime now, the state of Delaware has been run by one party, that being the Democrats. And with their willing accomplices, the Republicans, they have managed, and I use the word loosely, to borrow and spend the state into a corner from which we may not be able to find our way out of, short of huge tax increases and deep cuts to education and other essential programs.

Now I am not saying there isn’t room for cuts, and as voters we hold a certain amount of responsibility for the mess, after all we have sent many of the same people back to Dover year after year, and so we may have to accept the burden of higher taxes, like it or not. This may actually act as a wake-up call for the citizens of Delaware.

So with the end of the legislative session looming large in the near future, one would expect the Legislators to be hard at it, to solve the crisis of such a mess. That they would use every possible legislative minute to find the best way to lessen the impact of the bus, which is about to hit the citizens of this state square between the eyes. Now wouldn’t you?

So, as I have done many times, at this time of the year, let us take a look at some of the monumental task, which our brave legislators are tackling on their way to closing the $400 million gap. (You know every time I type that, I die a little inside.)

SB 85, According to data provided by the Delaware Department of Education (“DOE”), thousands of Delaware students receive out-of-school suspensions each year for minor infractions, such as being unprepared or late for class, dress code violations, and disrespectful behavior. In 2013, only 2% of out-of-school suspensions were for serious offenses such as weapons, drugs, or serious violence. Out-of-school suspensions do not address the root causes for the misbehavior, and only serve to put the students further behind in class. Furthermore, DOE data shows that, in 2013, African-American students made up only 32% of the student body, but accounted for 62% of out-of-school suspension, and students with disabilities made up 13% of the student body, but accounted for 24% of out-of-school suspensions. New federal discipline guidance, developed jointly by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, instructs schools to commit to regular evaluation of school discipline policies and practices, and monitor progress toward the schools’ climate and discipline goals. This process requires schools to first collect and publicly report disaggregated student discipline data, and solicit feedback from students, staff, families, and community representatives. This Act furthers those goals by requiring schools that suspend at a high rate or that show significant suspension disparities to take meaningful corrective action by implementing plans to reduce these numbers and by replacing out-of-school suspensions with more effective and restorative discipline interventions. The schools in need of intervention are defined schools with high rates of suspension in the following categories: (1) All students. (2) Students belonging to 1 or more subgroups, such as students of specified racial subgroups or with disabilities. (3) Schools with a significant disparity in suspension rates between racial subgroups or between students with disabilities and students without disabilities. This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the guidelines of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual. 

Can anyone tell me how this closes the $400 million gap? What it does do, is take away local control from school districts, in how they choose to handle discipline. But hey, I’m sure Sen. Margret Rose Henry (D) was sitting around with nothing to do one day, since she had already solved the deficit problem, and decided to sponsor this bill. And why am I not surprised to see freshman Senator Anthony Delcollo (R) as a co-sponsor. After all, he will likely put his name on any legislation he is asked to. We know he likes to sign it to letters.

SB 91 This Act creates a requirement that lodging establishments with an appliance that emits carbon monoxide or an attached garage have working carbon monoxide detection devices in each dwelling or sleeping unit. 

I will just sit here and wait for someone, anyone, to tell me how this solves the deficit problem. What it does do, is to allow the Legislature to project revenue from fines for non-compliance, and it invades the private property of business owners. But there’s nothing new about that in Delaware. It may also set the precedent to allow future legislation to require private homes to have these installed.

SB 90 This bill would allow for a student to participate in the Inspire Scholarship Program for eight continuous semesters instead of the current six. This would allow a student to use Inspire Scholarships for each of the semesters during a traditional college program.

Nope, nothing here to fill a $400 million gap. And since Inspire Scholarships is a tax funded program, well who pays the taxes?

SB 89  This Act is modeled after American Laws for American Courts legislation that has passed in Tennessee, Louisiana, Arizona, Kansas, South Dakota, Alabama, and North Carolina. The Declaration of Independence announced the formation of a new country that would no longer find itself in the clutches of a foreign power. For more than two centuries, hundreds of thousands of men and women have given their lives to protect America’s sovereignty and freedom. America has unique values of liberty which do not exist in all foreign legal systems such as freedom of religion, speech, and press, due process, and the right to privacy. Unfortunately, because state legislatures have generally not been explicit about what their public policy is relative to foreign laws, the courts and the parties litigating in those courts are left to their own devices. State legislatures play a vital role in preserving fundamental constitutional rights and American values of liberty and freedom. No United States citizen or resident should be denied these guaranteed liberties, rights, and freedom.

Well now, isn’t that grand? That is some high-minded thinking right there friends and neighbors. And if that doesn’t solve the deficit problem, well I just don’t know what will, how about you? And I am not a bit surprised, it was sponsored by our good friend, and defender of our constitutional rights, Senator Dave Lawson (R). We all remember his inspiring defense of religious freedom for all Christians, when he walked out of a Muslim prayer, and then insulted the entire faith of Islam. And the list of co-sponsors reads like a who’s, who of the Minority party. Sens. Bonini, Hocker, Lavelle, Pettyjohn, Richardson, Simpson, and the other House Minority caucus wouldn’t want to be left out,    Reps. Collins, Dukes, Kenton, Miro, Outten, Postles, D. Short, Wilson, Yearick. But at least these brave republican defenders of our rights were not wasting valuable time. I mean while they were signing on to this piece of legislative gold,   they could have been doing something idiotic like crafting an alternative budget plan. Thank goodness somebody had the good sense not to, so we could be served up this gem.

HCR 33  This resolution strongly encourages benefit-eligible state employees and pensioners to be engaged consumers and actively participate in Open Enrollment this May, by utilizing the new consumerism resources and making informed decisions regarding their health plan selections as an important step towards controlling rising healthcare costs.

Another Republican nugget, sponsored by Rep. Yearick. Again, no effect on the deficit, and can someone explain why we need the legislators to waste time passing a resolution to encourage state employees to participate in signing up for insurance? Letters were sent, notice was given. What is the point of this, other than to get your name on legislation which can get passed.

HCR 31 This resolution recognizes the month of May as “Poppy Month” in the State of Delaware. 

I just want to cry, I mean really, I want to cry. We as citizens are going to be hit with tax increases, cuts to education, and what the hell are our elected officials doing with their time? Declaring May as “Poppy Month”.  Well thank you Rep. Ruth Briggs-King for this, I was so concerned the Poppy would go unrecognized. It is so much more important to pass this resolution than it is to address the pressing issue of the deficit. Keep up the good work.

HB 185 The “Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act” would update Delaware code in conformance with recommended changes to the Uniform Vehicle Code from both the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (Rules of the Road Committee) and the League of American Bicyclists (Legal Affairs Committee). Without changing the legal meaning of existing law, these updates would clarify sections of the Delaware Rules of the Road that are frequently misunderstood by the police, by bicycle operators and by vehicle drivers. In addition, the Act would enable the Department of Transportation to deploy bicycle traffic signals as a safety countermeasure at intersections where most fatal bicycle crashes occur; require vehicles to change lanes when passing bicycles (and farm equipment and animal-drawn vehicles) when lanes are too narrow; permit safe yielding by bicycle operators at stop sign-controlled intersections with minor roads; and prohibit the use of horns when passing animal-drawn vehicles and bicycles. 

This is a Democrat bill from Rep. John L. Mitchell (D), after all, the Democrats can’t allow the Republicans all the fun of passing meaningless bills, now can they? Again, this bill has the benefit of revenue projections to close the gap on paper, but like most revenue projections, they will never be seen. So the House waste time drafting and debating such a bill, and in the end, it will have no affect on the real bottom line.

The point here is, the Legislature in Dover is about to screw the citizens of Delaware with our pant on, but they want it to be a surprise. So like every other year, they will pity-pat around with these types of bills and resolutions right up until the last night of session, and then pass the budget bill they have most likely already worked out. Then they will bang the gavel, and drive off into the rising sun, and head off for a vacation at Disney World, while we the citizens are left with no recourse but to pay the higher taxes.

The reason they wouldn’t dare roll out the budget, they most likely have already hammered out behind closed doors, is because it would give the citizens time to read it, and to contact them with complaints. And we wouldn’t want the citizens to have that ability, now would we?

It may seem as if I have been hard on the Minority party, the Republicans. I have been, because I am tired of them just being less bad. I want them to be better. I would be so proud if my Senator, Brian Pettyjohn would propose legislation requiring the budget be  finalized and published to the people at least thirty days prior to being passed. And yes, I know it would likely fail in the Democrat controlled General Assembly, but it is true leaders, who lead, where few want to go.

Can’t wait for dog of the year resolution. My vote is for the tuck tailed mutt as a metaphor for our elected officials, of both parties.


12 Comments on "It’s That Time Of Year Again"

  1. Rick says:

    Eventually, the Socialist-Democrats will come to understand that in order to pay for endless new “programs,” they will need to do more than raise cigarette taxes. They will need to enact a sales tax. Or they will have to raise income taxes, significantly. When they do, will they survive as a majority? Probably.

    And then Delaware can become a full-fledged member of the high-tax elites of the Northeast, joining MD, NJ, NY, CT, MA and RI. Unfortunately, unlike those states, Delaware doesn’t have that many super-high-income taxpayers to soak, so everyone will get to participate in the shearing.

    Perhaps the state can mandate a new property-tax assessment?

    “In order to allow more access to the crown jewel of Delaware, the pristine Cape Henlopen State Park, we are proud to announce the construction of another new parking lot (remember, you need to spend money to make money). We are also looking to purchase some surplus Nike missiles and a couple of Sherman tanks.”

  2. mouse says:

    What new program? Cape more than pays for it’s own cost with entrance fees. But you guys should be good. They are killing the estate tax, so you guys are safe to inherit your parents’ trailer and saved social security income without being taxed lol

  3. Rick says:

    What new program?

    What do you mean, “what new program?” There’s always new programs. More cops at Long Neck. The war against opioid addiction. And so on.

    They are killing the estate tax, so you guys are safe to inherit your parents’ trailer and saved social security income without being taxed lol

    I believe that the first 5-million or so is exempt now. Most trailers fall below that threshold.

    Cape more than pays for it’s own cost with entrance fees.

    And it always has. So why the new this and the new that?

    So they can charge more, that’s why. Of course, in so doing, they’re ruining the park. But that’s okay. To Socialist-Democrats, “preserving the environment” (with parking lots) is what the dupes who vote for them want to hear. In reality, they want money. As always.

    “We are proud to announce a new addition to Cape Henlopen State Park; the Minner Ferris Wheel, located at the end of the fishing pier. And don’t forget to ask about dune buggy rentals.

  4. Honi Soit says:

    I’ve got a thought on how to help balance the budget. Maybe Rob Arlett can ask Melania Trump to donate that jacket she was wearing at the G7 Summit. You know she won’t be seeing wearing that thing twice. The sticker price was $51,500 but it probably would fetch a lot more at auction now that she’s worn it. What do you say Rob? Do it for Delaware!

  5. Rick says:

    You know she won’t be seeing wearing that thing twice.

    Really? It was georgeous, and so is she.

    Some people look natural in designer fashions, and others, like Michelle O and Hillary, don’t. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

  6. Honi Soit says:

    No she won’t be wearing that again because fashion magazines will note that it’s been recycled. She’ll spend another $50,000 on something else while that jacket languishes in the closet. So I need for Rob to ask her to donate this to help us out.

  7. Honi Soit says:

    In fact I’ll bet she has a small fortune in her closet that she will never ever again wear. I see an opportunity here. Over to you Rob. We are depending on you!

  8. Rick says:

    Speaking of recycling, I hear Hillary will donate her pantsuits to a New Bedford sailmaker.

  9. Honi Soit says:

    Nothing from Rob yet. I can’t help but wonder if the White House is blocking his number so he won’t pester them about that presidential appointment….

  10. mouse says:

    I was plenty glad to have the bike trails this weekend.

  11. Rick says:

    I just read that Delaware leads the nation in the percentage of students who graduate from college and then move to another state to find a job, 70.69%, just edging #2 Vermont. Surprisingly, Rhode Island was third. I guess their taxes are finally taking their toll.

    “It’s good being first.”

    I can see why grads would leave Vermont- or other states in the top-ten- like Montana. They are rural and agriculturally oriented. But Delaware is smack in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic megalopolis.

    It is probably indicative of the decline of Little Wilmadelphia. There’s just nothing here besides the resorts and chicken. Maybe our brilliant Socialist-Democrats can tax the chicken business out of business, and force them to flee to VA or NC. Then we can hit rock-bottom.

  12. mouse says:

    We should just let the chicken mafia dump manure from the corporate chicken houses into tax ditches so they stay forever

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