Happy New Year!
As the new year approaches, many of us are thinking of ways we can change for the better and making resolutions for 2021. We want to know: is Delaware government and leadership doing the same? If the past any indication, it is unlikely to expect any self-reflection with budgeting, policy, or many other items. Here at A Better Delaware, we decided to make a 2021 resolution list for them:
Improved Transparency and Accountability
Delaware state government tends to minimize or even diminish the role of the citizen in decision-making, to the detriment of its constituency. Without transparency and accountability to influence better decisions, our officials are free to pass legislation to their own benefit, instead of that of its people.
A better way: allow for maximum transparency by livestreaming the session, allow public access to session, file bills publicly with ample time for public and official review, and no longer pass important pieces of legislation overnight on the final day of session.
End Corporate Welfare
Delaware’s game of corporate welfare is “a hell of an expensive lesson picking winners and losers,” and Delawareans are clearly the losers. Bloom, Fisker, and Solenis are just a few examples of expensive failures when it comes to big money for companies on the Delaware taxpayer’s dime.
A better way: Delaware lawmakers and leadership should reconsider their past failings and learn from their mistakes when approaching economic development via corporate incentives. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Instead, we must attract businesses by having a better business climate with lower taxes and less regulation.
Be kinder to business
According to the 2021 State Business Tax Climate Index from the Tax Foundation, Delaware is ranked 50th in the nation for corporate taxes. Unfortunately, Delaware is no longer the business haven it once was. Factor in the sub-par help offered to struggling small businesses statewide during COVID and proposed measures like minimum wage and other employer mandates set to come up in the 2021 Legislative Session, and one could assume the goal is to force our businesses out of business. In 2021, lawmakers must do better.
A better way: now is not the time to add any additional burden to small and local businesses that are still trying to stay afloat or recover from the pandemic. Instead, we should find ways to support them and boost employment.
Sunset the Health Resource Board (Certificate-of-Need)
Delaware is one of 35 states with Certificate-of-Need (CON) laws, in the form of its Health Resource Board. Despite a federal recommendation of repeal in 1986, the First State has kept this entity that raises health care costs and limits access to care. Without this Board, Delawareans could save $270 on average, have more local health care services, and be healthier overall.
A better way: It’s time for the legislature to sunset the Health Resource Board/CON. Delaware’s health indicators are mostly troubling, and COVID-19 has highlighted many shortcomings and demand for health care, which have been held back by the CON laws for the past 30 years.
Reform Taxes and Spending
With a projected $500M surplus, there should be no tax increases after the upcoming property tax reassessment. Our state budget (General Fund, Grant in Aid, and Bond) should not establish new spending, especially due to this revenue mostly being one-time funding. The last $200M “surplus” was the exact amount of additional revenue brought in by new tax increases implemented in 2017, and is responsible for some of the new surplus as well.
A better way: replenish the Budget Smoothing Fund and increase the Rainy Day Fund to prepare for the next statewide hardship. Additionally, it is imperative to pay down the massive pension deficit Delaware has. We can use this reassessment and new revenue to reduce our real estate transfer tax, which is currently the highest in the nation.
This may be a relatively short list in comparison to the many issues we at A Better Delaware see in the First State, but we will continue to tackle every issue that falls under our platform in 2021. We hope you’ll join us.
Our resolution is simple: continue to do what we can to fight for Delaware taxpayers and businesses and make Delaware a better place to live, work, and start or own a business. Happy New Year! We look forward to advocating for and with you in 2021.