by James DeChene
A reminder for residents of the 10th Senate District, as if you needed one with all the mailers, ads, door knockers and other campaign activities blanketing the area, that the special election is Saturday, February 25th.
The Chamber’s Board of Directors message on what we feel voters should focus on can be best summed up as:
It's common knowledge that Delaware likes it's food - one of the reasons we love our Taste of Delaware event at the Capitol each year. It's also why culinary arts programs are popular tracks for students to follow, and why you can bet these students are serving up delicious meals.
When you are deciding where to go for lunch, or who to cater your board meeting, Wilmington certainly offers a wide variety of options. We highly recommend adding Delcastle Technical High School to that list.
Delcastle Technical High School has been a Taste of Delaware participant for several years now. Taste of Delaware caters to more than 600 attendees, featuring over 20 Delaware food and drink vendors. Sophomores and juniors in the culinary arts program, and who are part of the school's Cooks and Bakers Club, join us and Senator Coons' staff before the event begins to help set up the area and help vendors with their equipment and food. During the event, they man registration and run errands and items for our vendors in order to keep things running smoothly. We appreciate the extra hands on deck, and they get a first hand look at a culinary event of large proportion, from beginning to end.
This week, some of our staff visited the instructional staff and students of the culinary arts program at Delcastle for lunch at Binders Cafe. We were blown away!
This week's menu boasted chicken stir fry made to order, cajun shrimp over greens with a citrus vinaigrette, and perch tacos with pineapple rice. Don't forget the chicken noodle and butternut squash soups, Delcastle's own homemade potato chips, or the grab-and-go selections of pre-made wraps and sandwiches. The dessert of the day was German chocolate cake, but we were too fond of their signature chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies. We were seated and served by students, who learn customer service skills as well during their studies, and were treated with fresh rolls and blueberry sweet potato bread, served with cinnamon butter.
Delcastle's culinary arts program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to reach competency in major areas of food preparation. Students are expected to work in all areas of the culinary arts field, including dining room operations, cooking, bakeshop, and pastry making. They will be expected to work individually, in groups, and in a professional kitchen brigade to experience a wide range of learning experiences in keeping with industry expectations. Those who have demonstrated a mastery of the major culinary learning targets will have the opportunity to experience extended cooperative employment in their senior year. Students are able to earn college credit through Tech Prep Agreements with area and out of state colleges. Students also have the opportunity to earn ServSafe Sanitation certification (a nationally recognized certification that lasts for five years).
The Cooks and Bakers Club is a volunteer cooking troupe that serves several purposes: to introduce children to the science of cooking (Delcastle students volunteer at places like Ronald McDonald House to teach resident children), to help prepare students for state and national cooking competitions, and to further their training through community service learning projects, like baking cookies for each Delaware police officer every year, and 'living classroom' experiences, such as the Taste of Delaware.
We thank the staff and students and Binders Cafe for hosting us!
Call the school at (302) 995-8100 to inquire about Binders Cafe catering and dining.
Delcastle Technical High School students helped vendors prep their tables and serve attendees at the 6th Annual Taste of Delaware.
Students assisted with event setup by unloading vendor equipment from the docking area.
Delcastle Technical High School students in the Capitol Building.
DSCC staff with sophomore chefs-in-training, who were able to join us for dessert this week at Binders Cafe.
by James DeChene
A recent article highlighted 2 dozen businesses leaving California in the wake of the passage of Prop 30, which amounted to a $6 billion increase in taxes in the Golden State. A recruitment drive by neighboring Arizona, which boasts lower taxes, a streamlined permitting process, and a reduction in other business regulations, has led to an influx of 50,000 people moving into Phoenix in the last year, while California has seen a net migration of 100,000 leaving the state. Other contrasts include California considering another paid holiday for state employees, while Arizona has placed a moratorium on new business regulations. While California ranks dead last by the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, Arizona is ranked 8th, and Delaware is 34th.
There are important takeaways applicable to Delaware from the linked-to article and study. Namely that as the General Assembly focuses its attention on expanding regulations on businesses and expanding benefits to state employees, instead of focusing on how to make Delaware more attractive for businesses not just to incorporate but to relocate here, other states are going to continue to eat our lunch.
by Mark DiMaio
Delaware’s projected state revenues have deceased by an additional $26 million over DEFAC’s September 2016 revenue forecast. DEFAC now projects that state revenues for the 2017-2018 fiscal year will be about $200 million dollars less than the current 2016-2017 fiscal year. The decreased revenue projection to $3.9 billion equals about 5% less than the $4.1 billion being spent during the State’s current fiscal year. In addition to the decrease in projected revenues, the cost of state government is projected to increase by $150 million dollars with Medicaid spending, state employee health care costs and increased school enrollment driving the escalation in state spending.
The DEFAC report points to flat revenue growth for upcoming fiscal years, which could lead to an annual cycle of seeking revenue enhancements. Even if Delaware can successfully restructure its future revenue portfolio, state spending could outpace new revenues. Delaware’s murky fiscal picture has been static for the past several years, with many elected officials focused solely on generating and increasing revenues to the state. If Delaware has finally reached a fiscal crossroads, maybe it’s time to take a serious look at state spending. The old playbook of raising corporate franchise taxes, raising gross receipts taxes and many other fees may not be sustainable. At some point, companies that incorporate here may seek out other states or nations for incorporation. The sky isn’t falling but sticking to the same formula of increasing revenues without serious consideration of reducing state spending will not be viable in the long term.
by James DeChene
Earlier today (December 15, 2016) United Health Foundation released the 27th America’s Health Rankings Annual Report. As the longest-running annual assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis, the report showcases positive trends in the health of the nation, as well as concerning upticks in several key indicators.
Among the report’s findings:
Also of note, is that Delaware ranks 47th in the number of dentists per capita and 17th in the number of primary care physicians. Recently the debate over DIMER/DIDER funding has reemerged as an important budget issue for the state. DIMER/DIDER reserve slots for Delaware applicants only at Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry at Temple. Delaware applicants only compete against other Delaware applicants for admission to reserve slots – not against the universe of applicants. For example, at SKMC, Delawareans have a 1 in 4 chance of being admitted to their reserved slots. The odds for applicants from any other state being admitted are approximately 1 in 40.
Please refer to the America’s Health Rankings website for additional information.
The 6th Annual Taste of Delaware, held fittingly on Delaware Day in Washington, D.C., featured more attendees than ever, with food and beverages from around the state on display. The event, hosted by the State Chamber along with honorary host US Senator Chris Coons, highlights Delaware companies, like Dogfish Head, Painted Stave Distillery, SoDel Concepts and Sea Watch, along with culinary students studying at Delaware Technical Community College and Delcastle Technical High School. With over 600 attendees this year and 25 featured vendors, the annual Taste of Delaware is an opportunity for DC insiders to mix with Delawareans and bond over what Delaware has to offer.
This year, cameo appearances were made by Senators Carper, Coons and Durbin (IL), Congressman and Governor-elect Carney, and Blue Rocks mascots Rocky and Mr. Celery. Most notably, a special visit was made by Vice President Biden, coming from his earlier tribute event held on the Senate floor. The VP spoke for 15 minutes covering a range of topics—thanking Delawareans for supporting him when he needed it most following the passing of his first wife, and later his son Beau; reflections on his start in politics; the challenges the US and the world has faced during his career; and a call for Democrats and Republicans to come together, in the Delaware Way, to help support the new administration.
The State Chamber would like to thank the vendors for their participation. We would also like to thank everyone who made the trip to Washington from Delaware, who help make this event successful. Finally, we would like the recognize and thank Senator Coons and his staff, both in Delaware and in D.C., for their help in planning and day-of help in ensuring this year was the best event yet. Until next year.
by Mark DiMaio
On Monday November 28th, Delaware Technical Community College, Delmarva Power and Exelon hosted a “Partnerships for Pathways” event at DelTech’s Sustainable Energy Training Center (Stanton Campus). The event featured guest speakers Governor Jack Markell, Governor-elect John Carney and Exelon’s David Velazquez. Gary Stockbridge, President, Delmarva Power moderated a panel discussion highlighting the Pathways to Prosperity program’s newest education tract – the energy efficiency pathway. The new pathway provides Delaware high school students the opportunity to learn competencies and skills to succeed in the expanding energy efficiency industry. Students enrolled in the energy efficiency pathway will learn terminology and concepts in the classroom. A key component of the training is applying learned concepts and this spring, students will gain hands on experience at Delaware Technical Community College’s energy laboratories. Delmarva Power provided a $720,000 donation to partially fund the new energy efficiency pathway.
The new pathway will help fill the local demand for jobs in energy efficiency industry. During the panel discussion, David Small, Secretary of Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control, stated that 250 sector jobs could be created the next few years. The Delaware Pathways to Prosperity program now offers 12 career training programs, including culinary arts, manufacturing, finance and computer networking and programming, with over 5,000 students participating in the programs. The Pathways to Prosperity program kicked off just two years ago with major support from the Delaware Manufacturing Association and Delaware State Chamber of Commerce members.
by James DeChene
Last week news broke that the Diamond State Port Corporation has agreed to purchase the Edge Moor facility from Chemours in an effort to expand the Port of Wilmington, which is nearing its capacity. The State Chamber has supported expansion at the port to take advantage of Delaware’s attractive position in the mid-atlantic region—able to take advantage of the channel, close to the majority of the country’s population, proximity to rail and an interstate highway system that’s a direct pipeline to Chicago and points west. In fact, port expansion was featured prominently in the Delaware Business Roundtable’s Growth Agenda as a driver towards long term economic development and sustainability for the state.
This week in the Governor’s office, two businesses were recognized for their support of the military and veterans through their hiring practices and engagement in the community. Started as an effort by the Joint Military Affairs Committee, featuring a partnership by the State Chamber, New Castle County Chamber, and in conjunction with the Central Delaware Chamber’s Military Committee, the Warrior Friendly Business award is presented each year to a small and large business going above and beyond to ensure those in active duty, or returning from duty, have a job to come home to. Memorialized each year on a plaque prominently displayed in the lobby where visitors to our Governor can review their efforts, this year’s winners were Mission BBQ (small business winner), and JP Morgan Chase (large business winner). Many congratulations and thanks to both winning companies.
You may have seen last week a request from the Division of Revenue looking for feedback from those who use their website to make payments. They are in the process of starting to upgrade their site and online services provided, and are looking to the business community for assistance. There is a survey to take, as well as a small group to be formed to provide feedback as well. If you are interested in meeting with DOR representatives, please contact me. To take the survey, visit: https://revenue.delaware.gov/forms/EDI_Survey.shtml
by Mark DiMaio
The 9th Annual Vision Coalition Conference took place on Monday, November 14th at the University of Delaware’s John Clayton Center. The conference brings together school leaders, educators, elected officials, non-profits and business leaders to focus on improving Delaware’s education system. This year’s meeting theme centered on working to “close the achievement gap” for the state’s disadvantaged and special needs children.
Keynote Speaker, Paul Reville, a Harvard University professor, focused his remarks on addressing persistent achievement gaps especially for students who face hurdles to learning. Professor Reville theme of “all means all” asked stakeholders to focus on policies that ensure that every student can access a quality education.
During the conference, attendees participated in small-group discussions on how Delaware can to a better job of connecting schools to government agencies and nonprofits that provide services linking students and families to health care, language training, shelter and food. Many Delaware teachers are left to assist their student personal issues while still trying to teach. Other discussions concentrated on the state’s decades-old school funding system and the need for increased funding for schools serving students in poverty and English-language learners. There was also the realization that continued tight state budgets with a projected revenue shortfall could limit state funding to address additional student needs.
Dr. Dan Rich, University of Delaware Professor of Public Policy, was awarded the Order of the First State by Governor Jack Markell. Professor Rich received the award for his tireless work to improve education for all Delaware students and service to his fellow Delawareans.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.