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Unprecedented Explosion of State Spending Leaves Taxpayers Out

From: A Better Delaware With the state budget running a nearly $1.2 billion surplus largely because of massive federal handouts for COVID relief, you might have thought lawmakers in Dover would give some money back to hard-working taxpayers. Instead, they did what politicians do best – spent it.

The record-setting capital budget (also known as the bond bill) was nearly twice the size the previous record. Tucked inside is an enormous $70 million Community Redevelopment Fund. The Community Redevelopment funds are earmarked for lawmakers’ pet projects.

Now, Delaware Live reports that legislators departed from past practice and failed to provide the itemized listing of these projects, and they passed it without even knowing what was in the bill!

But this year, because of the amount of funds available and the number of organizations that applied, the total $70 million fund was listed as one line-item under the assurance that the list of recipients would be made public once finalized.

Both the House and Senate passed the budget, and Gov. John Carney signed it without the list.

It reminds us of Nancy Pelosi’s famous remark that “we have to pass the bill [Obamacare] so that you can find out what is in it.” One lawmaker, Rep. Jeff Spiegelman (R-Clayton) called out the process:

“This year proved that the bond structure was ill-equipped to handle the amount of money we had. What this has resulted in is essentially a gentlemen’s agreement with tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on the line,” said Spiegelman. “This is the very definition of pork-barrel-spending, where legislators have this big pile of cash and they’re forced to play a game of ‘come and grab it’ for these funds.”

But his call for transparency and thrift was met with scorn and derision by Sen. Nicole Poore (D-New Castle):

“Rep. Spiegelman might choose not to take any money for his district if that’s how he feels about it,” Poore said.

Maybe next time Dover finds itself with more money than it can spend without cutting procedural corners, they might consider just returning some of it to Delaware’s overtaxed working families.