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Blogs and Articles

Students: A Hidden Homeless Population

By: Beth Conaway, Advisory Board Member, A Better Delaware

We have all seen pictures of homeless encampments, under bridges or on the streets in an urban downtown. But unfortunately, there are many homeless individuals that are not so evident to the public. One group of such individuals is students in our public schools.

These children are often displaced from stable housing by domestic violence, poverty or uninhabitable living situations, which could be the result of neglect by a landlord, but also often results from crime or other events that cause damage to their home.

During the 2021-2022 school year, the Delaware Department of Education identified 3,434 homeless students in Delaware. These students face a range of challenges that can impede their education and overall well-being. The Department of Education has worked to address those challenges.  The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is a federal law that provides certain protections and support for homeless students. All public schools in Delaware must adhere to the provisions found in the Act.

The Delaware Department of Education defines homelessness as a lack of a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This includes children who make a temporary move to live with others as well as children who live in motels, hotels, campgrounds, transitional shelters, or public or private places that are not designed for, or ordinarily used, as a regular sleeping accommodation.

Every school district has one or more staff that is designated as a school liaison with these homeless students. The liaison is responsible to inform parents or guardians of educational and related opportunities that are available to their children.  This information includes services provided under the McKinney-Vento Act.

One of the main tenants of the Act is the term “school of origin”. Under the McKinney- Vento Act, a child or the parent or guardian has the right to request to remain in the same school they attended before they were displaced. This can result in long rides to and from schools and costly transportation expenses. For example, a student attending a school in Dover may become homeless and find temporary housing in Georgetown. When this occurs, the McKinney-Vento act requires a “Best Interest Meeting”, between school’s liaison, school personnel and the parents or guardians of the student.  Those guardians may very well be the state’s social workers if the student is at risk of harm and the state takes custody.  The meeting must be held before a student is removed from their current school and before any school placement decisions are made.  Its purpose is to ensure continuity in the child’s education.  Schools can provide transportation services such as picking up students at their homes in vans, providing bus passes or vouchers, and even offering flexible school start times to accommodate travel arrangements. This transportation is paid for by the original school district. In some cases, enrollment disputes occur between the families and the schools. These disputes are mediated in accordance with the Enrollment Disputes section of the McKinney-Vento Act.

Students who are classified as homeless are also entitled to additional services, such as immunizations, and many schools also have established food pantries, clothing closets, and hygiene product distribution programs.

Even with these supports, homelessness often disrupts academic progress and social connections.  According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, 75% of homeless elementary school students in Delaware perform below grade level in math and reading, and 85% of high school students do. They often also face health and safety risks associated with living in unstable or unsafe environments. In addition, stigma and social isolation may result due to their housing situation.

As a result, providing targeted responses and accommodations can help ensure that homeless students have the support they need to succeed academically and thrive despite their housing instability.  The cost for these supports is high and must be recognized by state and local officials to ensure that the necessary funds are present to support the students, the families, and the schools.

Beth Conaway is a former teacher, who served for eight years as Principal of the Morris Early Childhood Center and then as Principal of Milton Elementary School for five years. She retired after 31 years in the Delaware public school system. Currently she teaches graduate courses at the University of the Cumberlands and volunteers in the Indian River School District.

Balancing Chemical Regulations with Safety is Vital to the Health of Delaware’s Infrastructure and Economy

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware

In the world of construction, safety and innovation go hand in hand. Recognizing the critical role the construction industry plays in driving a robust and thriving economy, we must strike a balance between strong regulation grounded in science and fostering growth. Recent discussions about the EPA’s overreach in regulating chemicals, particularly formaldehyde, have sparked debates about the future of construction in our state. While ensuring the well-being of our workforce is paramount, it is essential to recognize that overregulating chemicals like formaldehyde could have detrimental effects on Delaware’s construction sector.

Formaldehyde is a chemical compound widely used in various construction materials, including plywood, insulation, and adhesives, because of its unique ability to strengthen materials and improve their durability.

Concerns have arisen about its potential health risks, particularly with prolonged exposure of workers to high levels of formaldehyde. Protecting the health and safety of construction workers is a top priority for the construction industry. We are committed to upholding the highest standards for worker well-being and safety. In our state, stringent regulations are already in place to monitor and limit exposure to substances, including formaldehyde. Companies are required to adhere to strict guidelines, conduct regular safety training, and provide protective gear to workers. We take these measures seriously, and we are continually working to improve them.

However, overregulating chemicals like formaldehyde could inadvertently harm based on flawed science the construction industry in Delaware in several ways. Firstly, excessive regulations can drive up production costs. When manufacturers are forced to invest in costly alternatives or redesign their products, these expenses are often passed down to contractors and, ultimately, the clients. Higher construction costs could lead to reduced economic activity, decreased job opportunities, and potentially hamper the growth of our industry.

Furthermore, overregulation can stifle innovation. The construction sector is continually evolving, and chemical compounds like formaldehyde play a crucial role in developing new, more efficient building materials. Restricting or banning such chemicals could hinder the development of sustainable and environmentally friendly construction materials vital in our journey toward a greener future. We must balance environmental concerns and fostering innovation within our industry.

In Delaware, we pride ourselves on our open dialogue and collaboration with regulatory agencies and environmental organizations. We believe that a balanced approach to chemical regulation is essential, one that considers the industry’s need for innovation and growth, while also ensuring the health and safety of our workforce and the environment. We must avoid knee-jerk reactions that could have unintended consequences.

It’s important that we support measures that promote responsible chemical management, worker safety, and environmental stewardship. However, we should urge policymakers to engage with industry experts, conduct comprehensive risk assessments that consider all of the science, and consider the broader implications of chemical regulations on our state’s construction sector and others.

Chemicals like formaldehyde are integral to the construction industry, offering durability and innovation while supporting job creation and economic growth. While it is crucial to prioritize worker safety and environmental health, overregulating these chemicals could have detrimental effects on our industry. We must work collaboratively to strike a balance that allows us to continue building a brighter future for Delaware while protecting our workers and the environment.

Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.

 

We’re Not Ready, So What’s the Rush?

By Bob Ricker, Guest Contributor

On January 29, 1886, Carl Benz applied for a patent for his gasoline powered vehicle, creating the birth of the automobile. In 1901, Connecticut created the first statewide traffic laws. In 1910, New York introduced the first drunk driving laws. In 1950, Nash Motors included the first seat belts in American cars. But it was not until 1968 & 1970 when Federal Safety Standards were adopted and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was established, setting and enforcing safety performance standards for motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. Ultimately, with a product that was efficient, inexpensive, and profitable, it took American industry and the governing agencies nearly 85 years to smooth out the bumps in the gasoline automobile industry. What makes us now think we can do the same with the electric vehicle (EV) industry in 10-15 years?

EVs have been around for nearly 100 years as well, but unlike gas powered vehicles, repeated efforts at an efficient, cost effective or reliable product have failed.

But, regardless of the practicalities, there is a movement in our great State to force Delaware citizens down a path that is nowhere near ready to be traveled: The Electric Vehicle Mandate.

I will not comment on the political aspects of this decision, as I am not in politics. But I do have something to say regarding the negative impact of EV’s on the Delaware Fire Service. I will stick to the facts.

While the Delaware Volunteer Fire Service strives to keep up with the ever-changing job of just being a firefighter, we now find ourselves in a uniquely precarious situation. The electric vehicle industry presents the fire service with challenges that we are not 100% prepared to deal with properly, electric vehicle fires and electric vehicle accidents.

EV fires, most often originating in the batteries, are extremely dangerous, a risk to the environment and, many times, uncontrollable until they burn themselves out. They burn in a jet-engine like fashion and can easily explode, sometimes that happens in a garage and affects the entire dwelling.

In the event of an EV battery fire, fire companies must apply thousands of gallons of water to cool the batteries and to try to stop a very dangerous situation called “thermal runaway”. This occurs when one cell fails in the battery, producing heat, causing other cells to catch on fire and create an uncontrollable increase in temperature. Typically, a gas-powered vehicle fire only requires a few hundred gallons of water to extinguish. Furthermore, the runoff from these thousands of gallons of water can be highly toxic and may require environmental management.

I know there are those who will say that EV batteries are perfectly safe, and in a perfect world they are. But so is dynamite until you light it. Lithium-Ion batteries, which most EVs rely upon for power, are totally safe until a user either over-charges, over-draws, modifies or damages the cells, or the battery encounters a human being who tries to plug their EV charger in a 100’ 16/3 extension cord, because the cord on the charger isn’t long enough to reach around in back of their chest freezer in the garage.

The point is, misuse or failure to properly use EVs have consequences far more serious than we have seen with gas powered vehicles, and require different equipment, tactics, and safe response protocols, for which we have not yet been fully trained.

EV accidents put both the victim and the rescuer at risk and present other multi-faceted problems.
First, to the best of our knowledge, there does not exist across the board standards of the location, routing, color, and size of the high-voltage transmission lines sending the 600 volts of electricity to the drive units of the vehicle. This poses a life-threatening dilemma when the rescuers try to determine where to cut or pry to free a victim from the wreckage. Time is of the essence in these cases, and an incorrect choice or a delayed decision may cause a catastrophic event injuring or killing the firefighter or crash victim.

Finally, we all know the wonders that the “Jaws of Life” have achieved when used to extricate injured victims from a damaged vehicle, but there are serious issues with an EV and using the jaws of life. Spreading, Cutting or Ramming in the wrong place could result in damage to the battery, thus putting the rescuer and the victim further in harm’s way.

While there are several Facebook scribes who have endeavored to suggest solutions to these issues, they invariably lament “this procedure may not work on every EV” or “Refer to the Manufacturers ERG (Emergency Response Guide).” The fact remains there are no nationally approved tactics or strategies yet developed to get seriously trapped Delawareans out safely.

In defense of the auto industry, they are finally making strides to make the rescue process safer, but we still have quite a way to go.

Fortunately, EV incidents, so far, have been few due to the small amount of EV’s on the road but the forced mandate will result in a quick and significant growth in those numbers.

The Delaware Fire Service has always found a way to safeguard those we serve, and I am certain one day we will have the resources, skills and training to properly address EV challenges. But, in all candor, give us a fighting chance, what is the rush?

Bob Ricker joined the Georgetown Fire Company in 1975 and has served as Fire Chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief, Vice-President and Board of Directors and currently serves as Secretary. Mr. Ricker served as Mayor of the Town of Georgetown for two terms, Vice-Mayor for one term and 5 years on the town’s planning Commission. In 1985, Mr. Ricker and his wife purchased the family business, Baker’s Hardware in Millsboro. Together they have transformed a small hardware store into one of the most successful Outdoor Power Equipment dealerships on the east coast.

 

 

 

 

Carbon Dioxide and Air Temperature: Who Leads and Who Follows?

Which came first:  The chicken or the egg?

By: David R. Legates

In the era of climate change, this age-old question has received a new facelift. Now it becomes—Which came first:  The rise in carbon dioxide or the rise in air temperature?

Since the dawn of climate change alarmism, we have been told that carbon dioxide is the driver of climate change. Increase carbon dioxide, and consequently, air temperature increases. So, if we decrease the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it stands to reason that global warming will be abated. It’s just that simple.

Or is it? Many climatologists have noted that carbon dioxide is not the climate change driver alarmists purport it to be. An article in the Epoch Times suggests that a fixation on carbon dioxide ignores the real drivers of air temperature, which include the Sun and natural variability. But the idea that carbon dioxide is somehow the climate change control knob does not die easily.

In 2007, Laurie David and Cambria Gordon published a book entitled The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming. It was billed as “from the producer of [Al Gore’s] An Inconvenient Truth comes a powerful, kid-friendly, and engaging book that will get kids get [sic] interested in the environment!”  On page 18, a flap instructs children to “lift to see how well CO2 and temperature go together.”  The graph that becomes exposed shows that as time passes over the last 650,000 years, “the more the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the higher the temperature climbed…the less carbon dioxide, the more the temperature fell…by connecting rising CO2 to rising temperature scientists have discovered the link between greenhouse-gas pollution and global warming.”

The figure is from an article in Science by Fischer and colleagues in 1999.The problem is that the axes are mislabeled in The Down-to-Earth Guide—the air temperature axis is labelled “CO2 concentration in the atmosphere” while the carbon dioxide axis is labelled “climate temperature”. As the Science article noted, “High-resolution records from Antarctic ice cores show that carbon dioxide concentrations increased…600 ± 400 years after the warming of the last three deglaciations.”

Subsequent research has confirmed that carbon dioxide follows and does not lead to atmospheric air temperature. For example, in an article in Science in 2001, the authors include a graph that shows carbon dioxide concentrations following air temperature by a period of less than 1000 years. Another article in Science in 2003 concluded that “the CO2 increase lagged Antarctic deglacial warming by 800 ± 200 years”. A review paper in 2007 concluded that little evidence exists that greenhouse gases “have accounted for even as much as half of the reconstructed glacial-interglacial temperature changes”. Another paper in Science in 2007 wrote that the East Antarctica ice core “shows no indication that greenhouse gases have played a key role in such a coupling [with air temperature].”  A more recent study by W. Jackson Davis in 2017 concluded that “changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration did not cause temperature change in the ancient climate”.

I have been writing that CO2 is not a magic climate change control knob for more than a decade. Rather than being a pollutant, carbon dioxide is food for plants. This is good news for animal life and humans as well. We must stop the demonization of carbon dioxide and embrace its effects as the whole biosphere benefits from additional carbon dioxide.

David R. Legates is an emeritus professor at the University of Delaware and is the Director of Research and Education at the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He also is an Advisory Board Member of A Better Delaware.

 

 

WHAT WOULD ABE LINCOLN THINK ABOUT OUR SCHOOLS

By: Nancy Mercante, Guest Contributor

Perhaps Abraham Lincoln gave the best description of the underlying authority of our government in his Gettysburg Address when he said it was “of the people, by the people and for the people.”  Of all the layers of today’s government from federal, state, county, and city, the one intended to function closest with the people is the local school board, elected to work on behalf of and with parents in overseeing the education of their children.

This function is so important on so many levels — children, families, future work force, and the nation — that it seems unconscionable for a community not to take an active interest in the workings and performance of the school board. But here we are in Delaware where the voter turnout in school board elections is a dismal average of five percent.

School board members wield considerable power over the education and social development of children. While their primary function is to elect and oversee the superintendent, let’s drill down on what that includes.

  • Allocation and oversight of millions of taxpayer dollars.
  • Construction and maintenance of extensive infrastructure.
  • Selection and implementation of curriculum and textbooks.
  • Ensuring the safety of students and teachers.
  • Maximizing student outcomes to the highest degree.
  • Promoting the involvement of parents and community in education.
  • Personnel and Human Resource management.

 So, why is voter turnout is so low when the stakes are so high? Could it be that every aspect of our school system is working so well that we face the threat of being overrun with doctors and rocket scientists? Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Here are the alarming facts based on information taken from the Delaware Dept. of Education and National Assessment of Educational Progress:

  • Delaware spent an average of $20,230 per student in 2023. 13th highest in the nation.
  • Students being promoted through Delaware’s schools simply cannot read, write, and do math at grade level.

   Nationally, Delaware ranked:        

  • 47th in fourth grade math
  • 46th in sixth grade reading
  • 45th in eighth grade math and reading.

High cost and poor outcomes! Are we getting what we are paying for and what must we do?

Study the issues, follow the candidates, spread the word, and vote. It’s that simple.

 You can visit Citizens For Delaware Schools – A Grassroots Organization founded to help us improve the quality of education in Delaware, (C4DS) for up-to-date information on what’s happening and information about the school board candidates. Candidates were asked to submit their positions on key issues in their own words by March 28th. Their responses will be included in the C4DS Voters Guide to be published on our website in early April. C4DS invites you to ask questions, make suggestions, and lend a hand.

 Honest Abe once said, “Upon the subject of education, …I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we, as a people, can be engaged in.”  Surely, he was right!

Get out and vote in the School Board elections on May 14th.

 Nancy Mercante had a career in corporate communications for major companies in the financial, pharmaceutical and telecommunications industries. She founded Citizens for Delaware Schools, a nonpartisan nonprofit, two years ago to advocate for a better education for every student in Delaware.

School Funding Referendums: What Every Taxpayer Should Know

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware

Five school districts are scheduled to hold a referendum between now and the end of April. A referendum is an opportunity for you to vote for or against raising your property taxes to support the schools in your district. All individuals over the age of 18 who reside in the school district are entitled to vote. The specific date your school district is holding a referendum, if they are one of the districts doing so, can be found at citizensforDelawareschools.org. Additionally, dates of town halls and other informational meetings are posted there as well.

As you consider whether to vote to increase the tax burden that you share for the students who live in your district, you may want to consider how the school is doing and how the district is proposing to spend your money.

If you have children in public school, you probably assume they are getting a good education. But what comprises a good education? It should be learning results. There are good people in the school system, teachers, administrators and coaches, but results are lacking. Indeed, most of our school districts are doing dismally when it comes to student learning.

There is a way to find out how the schools in your district are doing. The Delaware Department of Education website has a “report card” for each school. The website says it is provided “to enable parents and stakeholders to engage meaningfully in public education decisions.” Perfect! Enter a school in your district and see what results are displayed. I have to warn you – you will likely be shocked. Almost every public school gets a failing grade – most below 50%.

Let’s look at the districts that are asking you to vote to increase your taxes. A snapshot of Red Clay School District (referendum on February 28) reports 32% of students work at grade level in Math, and 42% do so in English. Colonial School District (referendum February 29) reports 15% are at grade level in Math and 26% in English. Smyrna School District (referendum March 9) reports 31% at grade level in Math, and 39% at grade level in English. Cape Henlopen School District (referendum March 26) reports 49% of students perform at grade level n Math and 55% in English. Finally, Appoquinimink School District (referendum April 23) reports 40% of students perform at grade level in Math and 48% in English.

The numbers can be numbing but put them in perspective. When was the last time your child brought home a 40 on a test and you were satisfied with that result? The sadder reality is that there are actually more than a dozen schools in Delaware with single digit proficiencies. That means that out of 100 students in an auditorium, 10 or fewer can read at grade level. Lack of competence in reading and math – in all learning – is harming our children’s opportunities for success. We need to insist on improvement.

This information is not intended to persuade you not to support your district’s effort to increase the money it has to spend. But certainly, you should know how well the district is performing its job, and insist, if you give it more money, that the school board outline how that money will help improve student performance. Attend the town halls and informational meetings and make your school administrators aware that you expect better student performance results. Look back over the history of your school district and see what the performance has been. In many districts, student performance has declined while spending has increased significantly. And then attend school board meetings and continue to ask about meeting their core mission.

A referendum gives you an opportunity to more directly affect funding and policy than any other election in which you might vote. Be informed, be engaged, and demand better in exchange for your vote of confidence. If you do not see improvement, then the opportunity to select new school board members comes in May each year. Be heard! Our students deserve our best advocacy on their behalf.

Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.

 

History and Science Should Negate EV Mandate

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware

We at A Better Delaware have been clear about our opposition to Governor Carney’s electric vehicle (EV) mandate. Whether it is where you have to send your child to school or what type of vehicle you are “allowed” to drive, we don’t believe government should impose artificial restrictions on our choices as consumers. Additionally, as a practical matter, the mandate fails to account for the high cost of the vehicles, the shortage of charging stations, the limited range EVs can go on a single charge and the dangerous circumstances that these vehicles present on the road when they malfunction or are involved in collisions. There are claims that all these challenges will be met and EVs will be affordable, safe, and convenient “in time.”

Well, not so fast – in fact, not so 100 years fast!! Robert Bryce, a journalist who has written about energy issues for several decades and formerly served as a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has done some research, and written a well-documented article on the history of EVs. What he reports will cause you to wonder about the prospect of electric vehicles ever meeting the government’s projections.

According to Bryce, as early as 1915 (yes, you read that correctly), the Washington Post reported, “prices on electric cars will continue to drop until they are within reach of the average family.” In 1967, the American Motors Corporation (AMC – remember them, and the Rambler?) unveiled the Amitron, an all-electric vehicle with lithium and nickel batteries, which never went beyond the prototype stage due to “several technical issues and the high cost of battery production at the time”, according to autoevolution,com.

And, in 1980, the Washington Post wrote that by 2000, the electric car “could play a big role …in delivery trucks and two passenger urban commuter cars”, predicting a savings of a million barrels of oil a day with aggressive production.

This history serves to emphasize just how much the current optimism that electric vehicles will soon be competitive in the marketplace is at odds with the reality. The only difference between 1915 or 1980 and today is that the government is using its power to force manufacturers, dealers, and buyers of cars to follow their mandates.

As we and many others have demonstrated with facts and science, the EV models offered today are not commercially viable to the vast majority of consumers in this country. Although scientists and salesmen have been unable to produce a commercially viable electric vehicle in 100 years, government policy is to force us to buy whatever might be available, suitable or not, in 10.

But, if the government is serious about converting the fleets of cars and trucks in the US to electric, they are not acting in ways that make it feasible.

As reported by CNBC, the US led the world in lithium production until the 1990s but today China, our largest economic competitor, not only Is a source of lithium, but controls about half the processing and refining worldwide. Did the US run out of lithium? No, there are tons of it, in Utah in particular. But the regulatory restrictions make continuing production, mining, or refining so expensive there is no incentive to take the risks associated with a commercial enterprise.

Citing the regulatory requirements, among other factors, one company just suspended operations at a site near the Great Salt Lake after investing tens of millions of dollars in the project.

Much like the decisions regarding oil and gas, we are prohibiting our country from enjoying not only energy independence, but economic independence as well. We are required to enrich those who would welcome our decline because we restrict access to our own natural resources and purchase theirs.

And it is not just EVs. Cell phones, the new Apple Vision goggle, and the knock offs that will inevitably come to market, all depend on natural resources we could, but don’t, provide for ourselves. We are content to leave the mining, manufacturing, refining and the related environmental concerns to other countries. It is a short-sighted plan that does not create a stronger or more sustainable economy.

Governor Carney needs to pay attention to the history of EV evolution, the lack of success in furthering development of a commercially feasible vehicle, and the consequences of a mandate to purchase a product that enriches our economic competitors. He should lift the mandate restrictions and allow Delawareans to choose how they wish to travel and allow the market to provide the incentives to develop consumer choices.

Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.

 

The Same Old Song: Governor Carney’s 2025 Budget

By: Ruth Briggs King, Board Member, A Better Delaware

Governor Carney’s presentation on his proposed budget reminds me of the old song “here we go again.” It’s the same song, like a worn out recording we’ve heard over and over.

Can you imagine if you planned to spend more than you earn? Your family and friends would think you were nuts! It would be like stepping off a cliff without a parachute. But that is precisely the risk the Governor’s 2025 budget presents for Delaware.

The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) was established in the 1970s to provide sound financial planning for the First State. It projects less revenue next year for Delaware and its report should be of concern to all residents. Governor Carney cast aside DEFAC recommendations and proposed the largest increase in spending and the largest budget ever for Delaware. The Governor was intentional in presenting a whopping 8% increase over last year’s budget. Delaware is now projected to spend over six billion dollars next year. Ironically, last year’s budget was also an all-time high. Sadly, Delaware taxpayers will be on the hook to dig deeper into their pockets and do more with less while the state budget keeps adding to the cost of the government’s wish list.

The process is part of the problem. Each year the Governor’s budget contains ‘door openers,’ an assumption that everything funded in previous years will be the starting point for funding the agency the next year. Each year the doorway gets wider, and this means an expanded budget and increased spending. Significantly, rarely is there a cut in spending, or elimination of outlived programs. This year, DEFAC predicts Delaware revenue will not be sufficient to support the proposed spending increases. Clearly something must change. Taking the same path forward is not sustainable.

Did you ever wonder why Delaware’s economy is not growing? Increasing energy costs, expensive mandates, and labor issues impact not only state spending, but business revenue and personal income. Policies in these areas adversely affect Delaware’s primary sources of income – personal income tax, corporate tax, and lottery earnings.

During a previous budget shortfall, the legislature enacted the highest realty transfer tax in the nation. The promise that it, and other taxes that were increased at that time, would be reduced when our economy improved, was forgotten, and several attempts to reduce those taxes recently have failed. At the same time, however, we had billions of surplus funds and enacted millions of dollars of new spending.

One positive step has been the establishment of a smoothing fund, also known as a stabilization fund. Although his own party blocked it in the legislature, Governor Carney, to his credit, recognized it was a good idea, and has been supportive and consistent in providing dollars to this fund, which should exceed four hundred million this year. It may be the lifeline for next year to address the increased spending proposed in this budget. However, the provision is by Executive Order, and while this policy should outlast his term and encourage successors to continue the good practice, the legislature should codify this sound fiscal policy and not put politics over policy.

Let us get specific and talk about dollars and sense. Delaware’s budget is burdened with group health care costs as well as increases in Medicaid. Big medical costs are a huge burden for a small state. For many years Delaware incurred additional Medicaid costs. In the 2025 budget, Delaware’s health care costs are expected to exceed two billion dollars. Yes, one third of our budget goes toward health care costs. The prognosis is not promising for this chronic ailment that prevails over other needs. But changes in policy can help. The medical cost increases are symptomatic of the underlying issues of continually expanding Medicaid benefits, lack of pursuing fraud and abuse of benefits, and the burdensome mandates Delaware places on providers insuring Delawareans.

Another two billion dollars is directed to education. We are among the highest spending states on education, and among the lowest in student performance. Change is needed, but it is not more money.

The remaining two billion pays for all the other state services. That includes prisons, environmental enforcement, foster care, facility maintenance, and state vehicles.

Sound fiscal policy requires creativity, balance, prioritization, and sensible objectives. Sound policy is not simply more spending on the same old things.

Ruth Briggs King just retired from the Delaware General Assembly, where she served the 37th District, and the State, since 2009. She has extensive experience in finance, banking and organizational development and owns Workforce Solutions Today, LLC with her business partner. She recently joined the Advisory Board of A Better Delaware.

Former State Representative Joins A Better Delaware Board

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WILMINGTON, Del. – Former State Representative Ruth Briggs King has joined as an Advisory Board member of A Better Delaware, a non-partisan public policy and political advocacy organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and greater transparency in state government.

Jane Brady, Chair of A Better Delaware announced the addition of Briggs King to the board this past Thursday. “Ruth will be an excellent addition to our Board. Her background in medicine, education, and business will be directly relevant to ABD’s work in advocating for school choice, lowering individual and corporate taxes, and removal of Certificate of Need laws,” said Brady.

Representative King has precisely the expertise and experience I had hoped to bring to A Better Delaware when I founded it.  Her experienced hand in affordable housing, mental health and substance abuse plaguing Delaware will provide a critical voice for ABD in advocacy for practical solutions, “said Chris Kenny, Founder.

“I am so pleased to have been invited to join the Advisory Board of A Better Delaware,” said King. “Its work is legendary in Delaware, and I believe I can continue to make a real difference for our state in this role.”

King had honorably served the 37th Representative District and the state of Delaware since 2009. Her accomplishments include Delaware Teacher of the Year Nominee, inductee to the DelTech Walk of Success, and Sussex Central High School’s Hall of Fame. Currently, Briggs King serves on the University of Delaware’s Southern Delaware Advisory Board, as well as Delaware State’s Southern Delaware Advisory Board.

Ruth lives in Georgetown, Delaware with her husband, Stanley King. They have two adult sons and six grandchildren.

Ready Shoot Aim…

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware 

How many times have you gotten to the grocery checkout line only to realize that the bags that you should be putting your groceries in are sitting in the car or by the front door where you meant to pick them up on your way out? Or maybe you’ve juggled “10 items or less” in your arms as you try to unlock the car because you refused to buy one more of those [darn] bags that are piling up in your house or car on your way through checkout? You are not alone.

In states that have banned the use of “single use” plastic bags (also called film bags), “reusable” plastic bags are piling up, in cars, basements, garages and ultimately, the landfill.

The purported purpose of this social engineering experiment was to save the environment. A recent study calls the success of that objective into question. Fredonia Custom Research examined the impact of the single use plastic bag ban in New Jersey. It found that, since the ban was implemented, actual plastic consumption went up 300%. Additionally, the most utilized of these reusable bags are comprised of woven polypropylene, which is not widely recycled in the United States, and they are not usually made of recycled materials. Their use has been accelerated by escalating availability of delivery services for groceries and other items, which also are banned from single use containers. And, it turns out the increased production of woven polypropylene results in a significant increase in greenhouse gases.

When you look at it rationally, like many other policies our governments have adopted lately because it sounded like a good idea, there is little to commend the ban. It is just another example of government meddling in our lives without considering the consequences of their actions.

And those single use bags weren’t really single use. A quick survey of my friends indicated that they were used for cat litter, wet towels for swimsuits from the beach or pool, dirty shoes when packing to come home from a trip, and Christmas card envelopes so they knew who to send cards to next year, etc.

And, ironically, because most of those who are motivated by a mission to support the environment don’t usually support business, the ban has been super for profits. Not only do the stores not have to provide a bag, they can sell you one instead. Of course, public relations have suffered for those stores. After all, if they don’t have a bag for you when you don’t have your own, you hate them. If they have bags, but they charge you for them, you hate them.

Reusable bags are not the only example of government run reckless. Laws relating to electric vehicles, plastic straws, and incandescent lightbulbs are all the result of feel-good policies with unintended consequences, and science and data contrary to the proclaimed good results the legislation would achieve. Ultimately, the answer to this issue is to have all the facts before you make a decision, consider the alternatives and whether the objective is achievable and how best to achieve it. No reasonable person is opposed to the end objective of many of these policies, but no rational person would take the path many legislatures and Congress have to achieve those objectives.

There was a saying in the 1960s, “If it feels good, do it”. It was not a good way to live a life. It is an even worse way to govern.

Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.