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In The News

Jewish leaders condemn Morrison post, ask to talk about Israeli attacks

From: DelawareLive: Two state representatives are among 15 Delaware Jewish leaders who have taken another Delaware state representative to task for what they describe as “hurtful and inflammatory” language describing Jewish attacks in Gaza as “ethnic cleansing.”

In a May 21 open letter to Rep. Eric Morrison, D-Glasgow, the 10 rabbis and five other leaders singled out his May 16 Facebook post, in which he calls attacks in Gaza “ethnic cleansing at best, genocide at worst.”

Among those signing the letter from the Jewish Community Relations Committee were Morrison’s fellow legislators, Rep. Deb Heffernan, D-Bellefonte, and Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman, R-Clayton. Read more: https://delawarelive.com/jewish-leaders-condemn-morrison-post-ask-to-talk-about-israeli-attacks/

 

Delaware JobLink site slammed by unemployed Wednesday

FROM: DELAWARELIVE:
As of June 12, those on unemployment will again be required to prove they searched for a job to keep checks coming

 

It was mighty hard to get onto Delaware’s JobLink site Wednesday.

Many of those who tried got this message: “This website is under heavy load (queue full). We’re sorry, too many people are accessing this website at the same time. We’re working on this problem. Please try again later.”

As of June 12, signing up at that link will be first step that the unemployed must take in Delaware in order to keep getting their benefits, the Department of Labor announced Tuesday.

On orders from Delaware Gov. John Carney, as of that date, anyone on unemployment must prove they are looking for jobs in order to keep getting state and federal benefits.

When COVID-19 hit last year and the unemployment rolls swelled by tens of thousands overnight, the requirement to hunt for a job was dropped and payments were increased to $900 a week in a combination of state and federal money.

As vaccinations have risen and the community opens up, employers have complained that they can’t find enough people to take the jobs that are open. One reason, they say, is because of high unemployment payments, coupled with no requirement to seek a job.

 

Carney said Tuesday he will not drop the extra $300 in federal pay as other governors have. That extra money runs out in September.

But he did order the Department of Labor to reinstitute the job-seeking requirement.

Now, the unemployed once again must first sign up with JobLink, which will require creating or uploading a resume. In addition, they also must complete at least one unique job search a week to remain eligible.

JobLink, which was required before the pandemic, allows employers and job seekers to create and post jobs and resumes in a sort of state-sponsored matching system.

“Delawareans are getting vaccinated, and businesses are reopening and expanding hours of service,” said Secretary of Labor Karryl Hubbard in a press release.  “Thousands of jobs are currently available and UI claimants want to get back to work.  JobLink is a key tool for connecting potential employees to employers.”

Claimants should check in JobLink to ensure they are properly registered, the Labor Department stressed. The system will include information about the most in-demand occupations by industry and on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities.

Once registered, claimants can begin their weekly required job search, which they must document and record to keep getting unemployment payments. For more on how to do that, go to labor.delaware.gov.

The Department of Labor is planning a number of customized communications, including phone calls and posts on the website, to alert those in the system that the rules are changing.

“With nearly a month to complete the JobLink registration, we are seeking to provide Delawareans ample time to comply with the reinstatement of these requirements, said Darryl Scott, director of Unemployment Insurance, in the press release. “We want to strongly encourage people to start this process now.”

On Wednesday, it looked like people were taking that seriously.

Unemployment benefits are available to workers in Delaware that are unemployed through no fault of their own, who are ready and able to accept work, who are actively seeking work and whose past income meets a minimum amount based on an 18-month base period.

 

Delaware state senator Darius Brown charged following altercation at Talleyville restaurant

FROM: DELAWARE NEWS JOURNAL

A Delaware state senator has been charged with offensive touching and disorderly conduct after police say he punched an acquaintance and threw a glass of water at a Talleyville restaurant Sunday evening.

Delaware State Police were called to Taverna Rustic Italian Restaurant on Silverside Road just before 6:30 p.m. for reports of a “domestic altercation.”

When troopers arrived, a 44-year-old woman said she and Sen. Darius Brown, D-Wilmington, were arguing about a social media post when he punched her. He then threw the water glass, which “broke into pieces,” police said.

Brown left the restaurant before troopers arrived. The woman “sustained some redness to the side of her face but did not require any medical attention,” police said.

Brown, a former Wilmington councilman, chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was elected to the General Assembly in 2018 as the District 2 senator.

Since then, he has been one of the Statehouse’s champions of criminal justice reform. In 2019, for example, he voted to pass a bill that expanded the types of offenses that can be expunged after a certain amount of time.

In the spring of 2018, while he was running for the District 2 seat, Brown was hit with a federal tax lien for $50,803 in unpaid income taxes from 2012 through 2016. A month later, the Delaware Division of Revenue filed a complaint in Superior Court for $9,854 in unpaid taxes and penalties from 2014 through 2016.

STORY:Delaware Senate candidate owes $50K to feds, $10K to state

“I have a tax liability,” Brown said at the time. “I have a payment arrangement to make a monthly payment. That’s what I do to satisfy my liability, which is no different than other people with the challenges they have.”

Brown declined to provide an explanation for how his taxes appeared to have gone unpaid for years.

On Wednesday, Delaware Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola addressed Brown’s arrest, saying accusations of domestic violence “are serious and in direct conflict with the values of the Delaware Senate Democratic Caucus.”

“However, a presumption of innocence is one of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system,” Sokola said. “I will carefully consider whether any formal actions are warranted in the coming days as we learn more about this incident.”

When a Delaware Online/The News Journal reporter called Brown for comment, they received a message that his voice mailbox was full. Other attempts have also been made to reach the state senator for comment.

Delaware

WHY INFLATION IS AT A 12-YEAR-HIGH

From the Foundation for Economic Education

Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released numbers indicating that the average price level of consumer goods has risen 4.2% since this time last year. This is the highest rate since 2008. In other words, the average consumer making the same salary this year has taken a pay cut when you consider what their paycheck can actually buy.

How does the BLS know this? One way the BLS keeps track of inflation is by using the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI uses some of the common goods urban consumers buy, and they keep track of the prices of these goods each year.

A CPI growth of 4.2% means this “basket” of goods the average urban consumer buys has gotten 4.2% more expensive. Economists call this measure inflation.

The CPI is by no means a perfect measure of inflation, nor could any measure be, but it provides some kind of benchmark to compare how much prices are changing over time.

Why is inflation increasing now? It’s all about the money. Imagine tomorrow that suddenly all US money becomes a 10x larger number. Ten dollar bills become 100 dollar bills, bank accounts with $10,000 turn into accounts with $100,000, and the four quarters in your cup holder transform into a 10 dollar bill.

This might sound nice at first, but consider what happens next. If prices stay the same, suddenly people rush out to buy new things. Suddenly, a student with a $7000 student loan can buy a Porsche. Someone can afford a down payment on a house who was months away before. A kid with a generous allowance buys a flat-screen TV.

But now the problems appear. All cars for sale are being driven off the lot. TV shelves are empty. House offers pour in only minutes after listing. There is more money, but the exact same amount of goods exist. With so many customers demanding new goods, sellers have 10 customers fighting over one product. So what happens? The price is bid up.

In fact, prices in this world will make, on average, the same change as bank accounts. One dollar candy bars become $10, average quality TVs cost thousands of dollars, and the $100,000 two-bedroom in Kansas becomes a million-dollar purchase.

If more dollars chase the exact same goods, prices will rise.

Although the above example is simplified, the general idea holds in the real world. Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten 10x more money, but new money has been introduced to the economy.

The quantity of money (measured as “M2” by the Federal Reserve) has increased more than 32.9% since January 2020.

That means nearly one-quarter of the money in circulation has been created since then. As the following graph shows, a change like this is unprecedented in recent history.

Image Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Series M2SL

The newly printed money helps fund the slew of trillion-dollar coronavirus spending which benefitted massive corporations. It also is an attempt to satisfy consumers’ demand to hold money so they will be comfortable spending again. And spending they are.

As lockdowns end and finally allow consumers to return to normal economic activity, the new money begins to move through the economy more quickly. Banks have more money to lend out and people are building new homes. As more homes are built, the demand for wood increases. As the demand for wood increases, the price of wood goes up. Sound familiar?

Although the new money won’t hit all markets at the same time, and it may take some time for demand to return to pre-lockdown levels, the inflation numbers indicate this process has begun. In order for inflation to slow down, either spending would have to slow down, or the government would have to lower the money supply.

None of this means hyperinflation is coming tomorrow or ever. In fact, it could be a blip caused by a low CPI benchmark. But given all the new money floating around, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if this rate of inflation were to persist or increase.

The Federal Reserve members aren’t worried, and, in fact, they claim to not be considering contractionary monetary policy until inflation is this level for some time. Many economists argue inflation would need to be much higher to be worth worrying about. But inflation need not be hyperinflation to be harmful to many. Inflation’s effects are not equal.

After a year of lockdowns leading to job losses and pay cuts, many Americans aren’t in a position to pay 4.2% higher prices. It’s easy for someone with a comfortable job or nest egg to scoff at these price increases, but working-class and poor Americans feel the difference.

At a time when Americans work to rebuild their savings to protect their families from future uncertainty, is it wise to ignore a policy that slowly eats away at their savings while they scramble to find new coupons for groceries or consider taking a much longer public transit route to save on gas? These struggles are worth consideration.

So will inflation rise? Will it fall? No one can say for sure. But we can say for sure that inflation doesn’t need to be in the double digits to hurt.

 

Carney’s Lockdown has left Delaware behind.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult on the nation, Delawareans are lagging far behind its neighbors as the world begins to find its way back to normalcy.

 

According to Wallet Hub, Delaware is ranked 48th in economic recovery since the start of the pandemic. Unemployment claims are up 998% compared to this same week in 2019 – nearly twice the increase of the next largest jump in unemployment claims, New Mexico at 508%.

 

Four of the top five states recovering the quickest – South Carolina, South Dakota, Iowa, and Kansas have had more relaxed restrictions compared to Delaware since the start of the pandemic and have adopted practical, pro-business common sense measures to keep their states thriving.

 

South Carolina kept its manufacturing sector open during the pandemic, allowing the $200 billion industry to sail smoothly through the past year with a job decrease of only 2% which is expected to bounce back to pre-pandemic employment by the end of 2021.

 

South Dakota, which has an economy that relies heavily on tourism, took quick measures to keep travelers safe and top destinations open. The state only saw a 3.5% decrease in tourism revenue while its state parks welcomed 8 million visitors – an increase of 31% over 2019. In 2021, the state is expected to top pre-pandemic tourism dollars, with hotels already seeing a 41% increase in bookings over 2020.

 

Kansas schools have been in session for full-time in-person instruction since the beginning of April, after Gov. Laura Kelly (D) ended all executive orders relating to the pandemic on March 31.

 

According to NPR, Gov. Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina) lifted mask mandates and banned vaccine passports earlier this month. He stated this week that “maintaining the status quo ignores all of the great progress we’ve made.”

 

Gov. John Carney should take a lesson from Gov. Kelly and Gov. McMaster. Despite Carney’s repressive policies, Delaware’s positive test rate is just 0.6 percent more than South Carolina’s , and can be seen  following a steady downward trend since January on the State of Delaware’s “My Healthy Community” website. Delaware is also slightly ahead with the percentage of adults having received at least one dose of the vaccine, 45 to 43.

 

Delaware is now on the cusp of its 28th modification to the original state of emergency order which will lift indoor capacity restrictions – as long as the space can comply with the new recommended social distancing of three feet (down from six). Despite these small improvements, customers must remain seated at both indoor and outdoor dining establishments and masks are still required.

 

While Delaware’s trends and modifications seem encouraging from a health and business perspective, from a financial one, they are not. Even as indoor locations increase their capacities, many employers are having difficulty finding new hires because they find themselves in competition with the government for labor.

 

The extra $300 per week unemployment benefit provided by the Federal Pandemic Unemployment program (FPUC) distorts incentives to work, and makes it more economically enticing for the unemployed to remain on the rolls rather than take available jobs.

 

Twelve states including South Carolina have announced cutting back on the federal emergency unemployment benefits with the goal of ending the labor shortage, hastening economic recovery, and saving taxpayer dollars.

 

Delaware is continuing with the assistance and in February, passed House Bill 65 which waived 2020 income tax on unemployment benefits.

 

This means a continual flow of generous benefits for the 6.5% of Delawareans who remain unemployed (the national unemployment rate is 6.1%) plus a tax break on those earnings. According to The Hill, some unemployed individuals could be bringing home up to 150% their usual earnings by relying solely on current unemployment benefits.

 

The Delaware Division of Small Business has been assisting small business owners throughout the pandemic, offering nearly $200 million in relief grants to approximately 4,000 businesses, but these businesses need to be open full-time at full capacity with a full workforce to be weaned off government assistance.

 

The combination of both employers and employees both relying on government assistance to stay afloat is unsustainable and will continually fuel the state’s labor shortage.

 

The responsibility of making the necessary changes to incentivize Delaware’s residents to work, allowing businesses to reach their full potential and giving Delawareans the return to normal that they desperately need lies in the hands of Gov. Carney.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; A Better Delaware Welcomes a New Executive Director


Kathleen Rutherford

Wilmington, Delaware – May 4, 2021 – Chris Kenny, founder of A Better Delaware, Inc. (ABD) has selected Kathleen Rutherford as its new Executive Director to lead his political advocacy organization which supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and overall transparency in state government.

Rutherford will succeed Zoe Callaway who for two years was at the forefront of driving over a dozen advocacy campaigns, including raising public awareness about a possible soda tax and income tax hike. ABD was also a frequent critic of the Health Resources Board, the authority of which was recently stripped by the state Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee. Currently, A Better Delaware is advocating for more rapidly opening up our state completely so our families, kids, and businesses can heal mentally, emotionally, socially and financially from the disastrous effects of the prolonged lockdown during the pandemic.

Callaway has accepted a position at the highly regarded Tax Foundation in Washington, DC as Manager of Education and Outreach and will hand over the reins to Kathleen in the beginning of May. Kenny and Callaway have worked seamlessly together to build the ABD brand. Kenny commented, “While I am saddened to see Zoe leave after such an incredible performance launching ABD to become a formidable presence in Delaware, I am very happy to see her land a much larger role in such a prestigious national organization in DC.”

Over the past six years, Rutherford has directed several major political campaigns in Delaware helping to raise over one million dollars in donations, recruited hundreds of volunteers, and consistently lead a record number of voters to the ballot box in support of her candidate clients. During this time, Rutherford also formed Rutherford Consulting, Inc. offering communications and marketing strategies to advance her clients position with the Delaware General Assembly and the regulatory bodies of the State of Delaware. Kenny is looking forward to ABD’s continued success with his new hire stating, “Kathleen brings that seasoned Delaware political experience coupled with fundraising prowess that will bring ABD to new heights. I am excited to see what we can achieve with her at the helm.”

“The work at A Better Delaware is consistently in motion and the organization is affecting change. This is where I want to be,” said Rutherford. “My goal as Executive Director for A Better Delaware, is to continue their year-round communications which promote policies benefiting Delaware’s economy, and enhance their grassroots efforts, which have to date earned 10,000 Facebook followers and over 13,000 email subscribers. I am extremely excited to carry forward A Better Delaware’s mission of advocating for a transparent government with common-sense policies that benefit all Delawareans.”

ABOUT A BETTER DELAWARE A Better Delaware is a non-partisan public policy and political advocacy organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and greater transparency and accountability in state government. A Better Delaware can be found on Facebook @abetterdelaware and at www.ABetterDelaware.org.

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Contact: Kathleen Rutherford
kathleen@abetterdelaware.org

Restaurant Chain Announces Bankruptcy, Says Minimum Wage Hikes to Blame

From the Foundation for Economic Education

Restaurants Unlimited, a Seattle-based chain with restaurant locations in 47 US cities, announced on Sunday it was seeking Chapter 11 protection, citing “progressive” wage laws.

The company, which has operated since the Lyndon Johnson Administration, said rising labor costs—part of a national trend of government-mandated minimum increases—were part of its decision.

“Over the past three years, the company’s profitability has been significantly impacted by progressive wage laws along the Pacific coast that have increased the minimum wage,” Chief Restructuring Officer David Bagley said in court filings, The Seattle Times reports. “As a large employer in the Seattle metro market, for instance, the company was one of the first in the market to be forced to institute wage hikes.”

The minimum wage was not the only factor Restaurants Unlimited blamed for their impending bankruptcy. The company also cited a pair of soft restaurant openings and a decline in casual dining.

The Congressional Budget Office released a report estimating that a House bill designed to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would cost 1.3 million jobs.

The announcement, however, mirrors labor trends on the east and west coasts. BLS data show that New York City experienced its sharpest decline in restaurant jobs since 9/11 following its passage of a $15 minimum wage law. In California, a local newspaper recently detailed how an entire business district virtually disappeared following the city’s aggressive minimum wage push.

Restaurants Unlimited’s announcement came a day before the Congressional Budget Office released a report estimating that a House bill designed to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would cost 1.3 million jobs.

Read more

Delaware eases restrictions on restaurants, bars, sports as cases continue to surge: What to know

From Delaware Online

Starting Friday, Delaware bars and restaurants will no longer have a curfew, and the state is easing restrictions on sports competitions.

Gov. John Carney announced the eased restrictions in a press release on Friday.

The state’s stay-at-home advisory and mandate that everyone wear a mask when indoors with people whom they don’t live with, including in private settings, are still in place.

Read more

Georgetown launches online financial ‘transparency center’

From Delaware Online

Much of Georgetown’s financial information can now be viewed online by anyone, anytime.

The Sussex County seat is the first Delaware municipality to use ClearGov software to provide residents with an online financial “transparency center.”

“These days, not everyone has the time to attend public meetings. The transparency center will make it easy and convenient for interested residents to stay informed,” Mayor Bill West said.

ClearGov aims to make financial information easy to access and understand. It breaks down Georgetown’s revenues and expenditures by category, each of which can be clicked to view further breakdowns. Clicking “download financials” at the top of each revenue and expenditure page provides even more information.

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Delaware restaurants plan to fight bill that would raise tip wages, raise costs for businesses

From Delaware Live

If signed into law, the bill would dramatically raise the base wage paid to people who earn tips. That could have a ripple effect that would actually destroy income for servers and bartenders; raise the cost of menu items; and put some restaurants out of business. It also will dramatically raise costs for employers who not only will have to pay nearly four times as much to servers, but must pay higher costs for things such workman’s comp insurance and unemployment benefits, which are based on payroll costs.

And everybody in the restaurant industry continues to point out: Restaurants still haven’t returned to full strength either in sales or employment and continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions. Changes like the a rise in the minimum wage or the tip wage will cause more and perhaps unsurmountable financial turmoil, they say.

Restaurants will advocate in full force against any effort that blocks their recovery, said Carrie Leishman, CEO of the Delaware Restaurant Association.

“We need the state to help do whatever it can to make restaurants healthy and whole so we can keep these people employed,” she said.

Right now, restaurants pay people who can earn tips $2.23 an hour. House Bill 94, introduced by Rep. Kim Williams, D-Newport, would raise that to 65 percent of the state’s minimum wage.

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