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What’s New

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. 

A scandal-worthy dereliction of duty by Delaware’s Election Commissioner

By Ben duPont, Guest Contributor

Like all office holders in our state, Election Commissioner Anthony Albence took an oath to serve Delaware faithfully in accordance with the state and federal constitutions. Unfortunately, he has decided to break that oath by putting his own party’s political interests over the rights of Delaware voters.

Mr. Albence is attempting to block our group, No Labels Delaware, from gaining ballot access in the state. No Labels’ work in Delaware is part of our nationwide effort to secure a ballot line that we could potentially offer to a Unity presidential ticket in 2024, featuring a Republican and Democrat as running mates. We’re undertaking this work on behalf of the majority of Americans and Delawareans who are unsatisfied with their two likely choices for president and are demanding another option.

Unfortunately, many partisans have proven they will stop at nothing to prevent that option from being offered. Mr. Albence is now engaged in a clear and shameful attempt to eliminate competition for President Biden in his home state.

Mr. Albence wants to block No Labels Delaware from the ballot on the pretext of a ridiculously thin accusation, based on a handful of phone calls and an anonymous tip from a reporter, that No Labels Delaware is “tricking” voters during the registration process. Never mind that we utilize best-in-class measures to prevent confusion among all voters we register, such as having our organizers wear t-shirts that say “THIS IS NOT A PETITION” in bold letters and requiring them to complete multiple rounds of training.  We also use only the official form, published by the Commissioner himself, that features “All-in-One Form to Register to Vote” in bold at the top.

These measures are exactly why Mr. Albence can only identify a handful of potential instances of voter confusion out of the 1,316 registrations we have successfully submitted. A 1 to 2 percent misunderstanding rate does not invalidate the other 98% of our registered voters and does not constitute a sufficient basis for disqualification. To assert otherwise is absurd.

Even worse, Mr. Albence is attempting to change the rules of how to register voters in order to make it impossible for No Labels Delaware to succeed. State law mandates that we register party members to secure ballot access, but he claims we cannot proactively approach or ask voters to register with us, and that the voters must approach us instead. This is an outrageous violation of our most basic First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. It also poses a clear catch-22 by making No Labels unable to qualify for the ballot and yet unable to do anything that would allow us to qualify. And that, of course, is exactly how Mr. Albence wants it.

His actions make a mockery of the democratic process and Americans’ constitutional right to influence the ballot. It is a clear misuse of government power to shut down electoral competition and secure advantages for his own party, and a terrible look for the president’s home state. I believe President Biden has an ethical obligation to intervene and stand up for the rights of Delaware voters. If he chooses to stand idly by while his party rigs ballots in his favor, he’ll lose any credibility in his constant moralizing about defending democracy.

The real victim of this isn’t No Labels, it’s the people of Delaware. This is a shameful affront to their right to have a say over their electoral choices, and it comes from the very person tasked with defending that right. It’s a reminder of exactly why so many people despise our two-party political system: it is more focused on self-preservation and power than actually serving voters. No wonder so many Delawareans have been eager to register with our party and support a fresh choice in 2024. I can assure them that we will not rest until our party status and ballot access have been restored.

Ben serves as a director of UrbanBound, GigSky, Ecrio, Vorbeck, Longwood Gardens, Zip Code Wilmington, and the Tower Hill School. Previously, he served as Co-Chair of A Better Delaware.

 

 

Navigating Delaware’s Legislative Process: A Users Guide

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware 

On Tuesday, January 9, the 152nd General Assembly reconvened in Legislative Hall in Dover. We at A Better Delaware thought it would be a good idea to give you some information about the General Assembly and ways you can learn what policies and laws the legislators are considering.

The General Assembly session runs for two years, the current one from November 2022 to November 2024, coinciding with the election of senators and representatives. While in session, legislators will be attending committee hearings, introducing legislation, seeking support for their ideas, and bringing bills to the floor. You may feel that it would be impossible to know what is going on in the General Assembly. And, while it is a complex process, with some “backroom meetings,” there are ways to learn about the status of a bill what the bill says or who is sponsoring a bill. The information is on a website at www.legis@delaware,gov

The website is fairly easy to use. When you log onto the page, there will be informational boxes with different types of information to which you can link. One, called Session Info has a link to the 2024 Legislative Session Schedule. If you click on that, it will display a calendar showing when the General Assembly will be meeting, when it will be in recess, and when it will be holding Joint Finance or Bond Committee hearings.

The General Assembly in Delaware meets from January through June three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The sessions begin at 2:00 PM, although it’s hard to know exactly when sessions will begin because sometimes committee hearings run over time, sometimes there are Democrat and Republican caucus meetings. Sessions also vary in when they end, and toward the last of June may go quite late.

In addition to the schedule, you can find the agenda items that are on for the next several legislative days. Each of the items listed allows you to click on the meeting, of a committee or task force, and find out who the chair is and what might be on the specific agenda. Be aware that items are added there regularly, so it is not a static list. Further down the page you can find the last action taken on specific legislation.  That list becomes much more fluid as the session goes on.

Many of the meetings and the sessions provide for virtual participation. You can click on the link and view the meeting or session. That does not entitle you to speak, however, simply observe.

If you want to find out information about a particular bill, you can put in the bill number or a keyword to search. If you can’t find it, or you want to look at all the bills that are currently pending, you can see a full list by clicking on “view the full list” and that will tell you the bill number of all pending legislation, the sponsor, the title (which doesn’t always tell you exactly what the bill is about), what committee it is assigned to, if it has been voted out of committee and if it is ready for a vote by the House or Senate.

If you aren’t sure who your legislator is, there is a place to put in your address and click to determine who your senator and representative are, their address at Legislative Hall, and their state email address if you want to reach out to them.

Finally at the bottom, there is information on redistricting, the Budget and Bond bills, and Grant-in-aid information, which is a program that provides taxpayer assistance to certain nonprofit organizations.

So, as you can see, there is a lot of information provided to you free of charge in the comfort of your own living room or office that will help you be better informed about what policies and laws the legislators, in your district and around the state, are proposing and where those proposals are in the legislative process.

So, now we have an action item for you. Go to our website, look at our mission and policy statements, and when you see a bill that furthers, or one that hinders, our objectives, let your legislator know where you stand on the issue and why. If you have not already signed up to be a Member of A Better Delaware, do so, and get access to exclusive conversations with our experts. And, if you have a good idea, share it with your legislator. Be a part of making Delaware a better place to grow a business, go to school or enjoy the beauty Delaware has to offer.

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. 

 

Common Sense Policies, Not More Money will Make for A Better Delaware in 2024

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware 

Each January, the Governor delivers a State of the State address, which is given in the chambers of the General Assembly, to report on the condition of the state in all respects, and often serves to highlight the executive branch priorities for the coming year. Members of the Governor’s cabinet, the judiciary, and the General Assembly attend, and afterward, the politicians, media and pundits’ comment and report on the content of the speech.

Generally, topics include the health of the economy, education, workforce development, healthcare, and our natural resources. Usually, there are references to what will be reflected in the Governor’s proposed budget relative to those topics. But I want to encourage the Governor to consider that money is not always needed to make the lives of Delawareans better.

In fact, in many instances, we have spent more and more money over the years with little or no change in results. What we need are new and bold ideas and changes in policy.

Most significantly, education stands out. While we rank in the top 10 in spending per student, we are three or four from the bottom in academic performance. According to the state Department of Education, more than a dozen Delaware schools have single digit proficiency in math and reading – fewer than one in 10 of the students can read or do math at grade level. Spending more money clearly does not work.

Other states have had to address this same issue. The Governor should look to Mississippi, which passed a law that any child that cannot read at grade level in third grade does not get promoted to fourth until they can. They have seen incredible results, rising from the bottom to now, 21 among the states – Delaware is Number 47.

. Many states are looking to school choice not only to give parents more authority over their child’s education, but to allow those children assigned to the poorly performing schools to escape a bloated and ineffective system that serves neither student nor teacher.

Our school discipline policies are disrupting the learning and teaching environment and putting students, teachers, and staff at risk. We need to return to a system that demands accountability and provide alternative classrooms and environments and additional mental health services to give all students a learning environment essential to their success.

According to the Federal Reserve, our gross domestic product (GDP), which reflects the value of the goods and services we produce in the state, is below zero – yes, it is shrinking. We need to reduce the taxes and regulations on our small businesses, which are the engine of our economy right now, and many of which are minority- and woman-owned, to generate our economy and encourage entrepreneurs to venture into the business world or invest to grow their businesses.

Education lays at the heart of other policy challenges, Again, there is opportunity. Companies do not want to locate here if the available workforce is not capable of doing the jobs a company might bring to our state. And we are not just talking about scientists or doctors. There is now an organization in our state that is teaching potential union and construction workers what they need to know to pass the apprenticeship exam, skills they should have learned in our public education system.

Our access to good health care at a reasonable price is affected by the requirement that the government approve new services or facilities. The Certificate of Need requirement gives those already in health care an advantage and limits competition. Many other states have eliminated the requirement, and we should too.

Delaware received a grade of F from the Center for Public Integrity. We need to expand our Freedom of Information Act, giving the public more transparency into government, and to establish the position of Inspector General, who will objectively review our state agencies and be a watchdog for fraud, abuse, and misconduct.

There are many other areas in which changes can be made. Overwhelmingly, our citizens oppose the electric vehicle mandate, but the Governor disregarded our opposition and imposed the strict and onerous law, unsupported by the necessary infrastructure and science to make it practical. We have adopted policies that limit our ability to escape federal oversight of our environmental efforts, and we have failed to properly invest the more than $4 billion in surplus funds our state has had in the past three years. And, while the state has used much of that money on building structures and roads, we adopted a policy that makes all those projects more expensive, carelessly spending our tax dollars.

It is January. Our Governor will be presenting a State of the State address to the citizens, his cabinet, and the General Assembly. I hope to hear him address these issues and lead Delaware forward with new, common-sense policies that will make our state a better place to live, work and play.

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. 

 

 

 

2023 – A Great Year!

As we look back on 2023, a lot has happened at A Better Delaware = all of it good!!

Kathleen Rutherford is forging a new path with her consulting company but remains engaged with us. Ethan Lang joined us as Executive Director and remained until he returned to school. He is now a senior at Dartmouth. We wish him the best and look forward to the exciting contributions he will make to our state.

We added several members to our advisory board, including John Marinucci, who retired from the School Board Association and has an excellent background in the dynamic, economic facets of education, as well as Beth Conaway, who served as a teacher and principal in Sussex County for number of years.

In April Jane Brady came on as a Co-Chair with founder Chris Kenny, bringing a number of years of experience in public policy and advocacy as well as a familiarity with the law related to many of the issues with which A Better Delaware deals. In September, founder Chris Kenny stepped back from the organization and Jane became Chair of A Better Delaware. Chris remains vitally interested in the well- being of our state, and we all hear from him regularly.

Our mailing list has grown, and frequently has had more than 10,000 people open one of our weekly emails. For the last three months, we have been publishing at least one comprehensive issue- based blog a week. If you are not receiving our email, we invite you to go to our website, www.abetterdelaware.org  and sign up!

We also established a membership program which will give our members, (for an annual fee), the opportunity to participate in Members Only briefings and discussions with our experts on the issues facing Delaware.

ABD’s newly launched Dinner and a Movie series has been a huge success! We offer organizations the opportunity to learn about the inspiring and successful effort of a single mom in Washington DC who advocated for her son and other children in the district to be able to attend better schools than those to which they were assigned. If you would like us to bring the program to your organization, let us know. The next showing is scheduled for January 22, 2024, at the Congo Legacy Center, located at 501 W. 28th St. Wilmington. You can sign up here.

We advocated against overreach by government. Together with the Caesar Rodney Institute, we advocated for a rational and science-based approach to wind power and fought back against the course that the state is taking which will increase costs to consumers and make the provision of power less reliable. And, again with others including CRI, we vigorously opposed legislation that would have required union contractors on all state construction contracts, making those jobs more costly.

As we look forward to 2024, there are many exciting projects we are preparing.  Our members-only speaking series, a podcast, expanded publishing and increased visibility.

We encourage you to join us. We offer substantive and researched information and advocacy on a variety of topics, including education, health care, workforce development, energy, taxes and fiscal policy, and government accountability and transparency.

We are constantly working to improve the lives of Delawareans, as well as the business and political climate here and to make your government more transparent and responsive to the views of you, the citizens it represents.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Board and Staff of A Better Delaware

Delaware Citizens to Become Californians

By: Hon. William L. Witham, Jr., Advisory Board Member, A Better Delaware

It would appear that Delaware is embarking on directly controlling the technological development of transportation for Delaware citizens. We may be faced, if the current Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) plans are adopted to be treated as if we are residents of California without our consent. I will not deal with the obvious legal issues with this concept since the rules in question are not the same ones unveiled for public comment and discussion under the state administrative procedures act. This fact may very well undermine the ability of DNREC to impose the proposed regulations.

DNREC seeks a goal for zero- emission vehicles by 82% by 2035. This is only about 11 years away. The plan is to have car manufacturers sell only emission- free vehicles by this date with only 18% allocated to traditional gas-powered vehicles. This seems to be an impossible task since this will cause an economic upheaval to say the least.

What is remarkable is that DNREC admits that thousands of Delawareans submitted comments, attended public meetings, and responded to polls and the result? The people have spoken – they oppose this radical agenda. Our tone-deaf DNREC bureaucrats say they are doing this for our own good – such hubris and arrogance cannot be ignored.

Increasingly, all Americans are rejecting the aim to electrify transportation, home heating, and all appliances and rely on power mostly generated by wind and solar. We all know for a fact that currently this is not possible without fossil fuels as backup for wind and solar. The most economically emission free fuel is nuclear, but the environmentalists refuse to consider this source. Despite pushing generous subsidies, EVs are piling up on dealer lots. Recently 3,881 car dealers signed a letter pleading with the President to back off on the unrealistic government electric vehicle mandate. Initially, there was great public interest in the new technology of electric vehicles.  They seem to work well for commuter buyers with short distances to travel with easy access to charging in garages overnight or at work with a second car, usually gas-powered for longer trips.

We are now learning of the myriad of problems associated with EVs. They are expensive to build and purchase, thus the governmental subsidies. They have a more limited range and greater weight than cars or trucks. Large trucks would require larger batteries, less space for cargo and go fewer miles, thus increasing the transportation costs for all Americans. Unreliability is a key factor. According to a study by Consumer Reports, many EVs are less reliable than gas or diesel engines or hybrids. They have higher repair costs. A battery replacement can cost over $20,000. They do not do well in accidents. On average, they cost 23% more to insure than gasoline- powered cars and when they catch on fire, it is burn, baby burn! The fires are very difficult to put out.

On average an EV with a sticker price of about $53,000, would cost about $100,000 without government incentives to the purchaser and manufacturer. The main reason you see these vehicles on the road is not because of a generalized consumer choice, but government mandates.

We have not touched upon the economic hardships that dealers, repair shops, supply chains, and trucking industries will face. With an 82% reduction of gas-powered cars by 2035, We do not have the necessary infrastructure to support the effort. Slow and inefficient chargers will not help. We will experience once again, long lines at gas stations in the 70s. The demand on our energy grid will increase and make electricity more expensive.

Automakers are already responding by cutting back on EV production. Ford revealed that its EV division posted a quarterly loss of $1.33 billion and lost $1.08 in the previous quarter. The same for GM. Their losses total $1.5 billion in profits this quarter. These losses will continue so long as our government enforces unsustainable mandates to implement fossil fuel-free or “net Zero energy systems. Delaware has yet to address the significant economic, societal, or environmental consequences of a near-total reliance on renewable energy and the required battery-backup that is necessary to transition to a fossil fuel free future.

Witham is a recently retired Kent County Resident Judge and has served over 40 years in Delaware’s justice system. He is also a former leader in the US Army Reserve and National Guard with 34 years of service.