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What’s New

Little is being said about state redistricting, despite calls for transparency

From: Delaware Live

Delaware’s state House and Senate districts must be redrawn and approved by Nov. 7, but legislative leaders have yet to announce a date to convene a special session to vote on the new district lines.

In August, a broad coalition of community organizations sent an open letter calling on Democratic House and Senate leadership to ensure a fair, transparent, nondiscriminatory, and politically impartial process.

On Thursday, one of the letter’s signatories, Common Cause of Delaware, said in a press release, “One month without any response from state leaders has passed since Common Cause of Delaware and a broad coalition of community organizations sent a letter asking for a fair and transparent redistricting process.”

Common Cause of Delaware is now demanding that state legislators “start communicating with the public about this year’s redistricting cycle.”

“Redistricting will impact our elections for the next decade and the people of Delaware deserve to have a meaningful say in the process,” said Claire Snyder-Hall, director of Common Cause of Delaware. “A completely transparent and public redistricting process will ensure we draw fair maps that benefit our communities, not the politicians. It’s time for state leaders to come forward with details about this year’s redistricting process.” Read more.

SBA Administrator highlights federal assistance and ongoing struggle for businesses in Wilmington

 From: Delaware Public Media The head of the Small Business Administration visited Wilmington Monday to highlight programs to help businesses survive the pandemic.

SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman joined Sen. Chris Coons and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester at Stitch House Brewery on Market Street.

The brewery was one of about 50,000 Delaware businesses that received financial help from the SBA during the pandemic.

Rob Snowberger is one of Stitch House’s owners. He says the business got two rounds of PPP loans, a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and money from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

But Snowberger hopes the federal government will offer more low-interest loans for businesses in the future—because he’s not sure how commercial lenders will react to the fact that his business debt doubled during the pandemic.

“Ultimately, we don’t know what the consequences [will be of what] we did borrow to stay alive — what the consequence of that will be on our balance sheet,” he said. “Not only that, but when you have negative numbers for so long, you’re not exactly bankable.” Read more

Unprecedented Explosion of State Spending Leaves Taxpayers Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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