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First State Last in Federal Assistance

This past week, Delaware entered a multi-state task force to develop a plan to reopen schools and businesses in the region, including Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

While this seems to be a definitive move in the right direction, we must consider what good this task force can provide after businesses have been shut down or have suffered greatly for a month with little help. Businesses across the state continue to reduce capacity, lay off workers, and shut down after crumbling under the weight of this pandemic.

After all this time without action, this new effort seems to be too little, too late.

For those businesses who grasped for the few lifelines they saw available in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, it really is too late. The $349 billion dollar fund was fully exhausted in two weeks’ time, with Delaware receiving fewer loans and less money than any other state, even states less populated.

With Congress torn on whether to authorize more funding for the PPP, where does that leave Delaware businesses?

For many, these SBA loans were the only hope to pay bills, keep employees, or even remain in business. If a Delaware business does not qualify for the state’s Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (HELP), then they truly are left without help.

Delaware issued a stay at home order on March 22 (in effect on March 24), effectively closing non-essential businesses. Twenty days later, and after offering little help to the businesses forced to shutter, we have joined a regional task force that still offers no help to struggling and failing businesses at this time.

Michigan, a state with over ten times Delaware’s population, established their task force on “general economic impact on the workforce, business activity and supply chains” on March 3, twenty days before issuing a stay at home order.

Other larger states like Ohio, Utah, and Colorado have formed their own task forces to address business needs, economic impact and recovery, and reopening their operations.

Their leaders recognized that saving livelihoods went hand-in-hand with saving lives.

Delaware’s reserves, such as the Rainy Day Fund, Strategic Fund, and money from budget smoothing have yet to be released to help ease the economic impact. Hundreds of millions of dollars in these reserves has been set aside for use in times just like this—especially the Rainy Day Fund which currently totals over $250M.

It isn’t just raining right now—it’s pouring.

Over the past four weeks, nearly 62,000 unemployment claims were filed, almost twice the amount for all of 2019. New businesses are shutting down weekly, with no hope for the future. State revenues are shrinking just as fast as money from the gross receipts tax, realty transfer tax, income tax, and more are not being generated.

Instead of utilizing hundreds of millions of existing taxpayer dollars to help ease the impact of this crisis, leadership has let businesses fail and our economy suffer.

When small businesses started failing and asked for help, they were denied. When entire industries came and begged to be saved, leadership denied them as well. When they come to you, the taxpayer, at the end of this for help with a budget deficit, it will not be a request. It will be higher taxes imposed on a population that is struggling to recover their own finances.