by James DeChene
June 7th was the Chamber’s End of Session Legislative Brunch held at Dover Downs. Over 200 attendees heard from Ed Ratledge, Director of the Center for Applied Demography and Survey Research at University of Delaware, and Bob Perkins, Executive Director of the Delaware Business Roundtable, on issues impacting Delaware, the state budget going forward, and how best to foster economic development growth. Among the highlights were items previously mentioned in this space:
Attendees also heard from Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride and Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, who highlighted the state’s budget issues, their respective positions on economic development legislation, including modernizing the Coastal Zone Act, and the reorganization of the Delaware Economic Development Office. They also stressed the need for increased revenues to fund health care and education, the state’s two fastest growing expenses, which together account for over half of the budget. Their remarks adumbrated the potential for further revenue increases beyond the Governor’s proposed 50-50 split of new revenue and expense reductions.
The House Natural Resources Committee voted 9-1 to release HB 190, a bill to modernize the Coastal Zone Act. It will face a floor vote next week. The hearing featured passionate testimony from both supporters and opponents, with supporters focusing on the need for the redevelopment of industrial sites currently a blight on Delaware’s landscape. Chamber President Rich Heffron suited up (literally and figuratively) to deliver the Chamber’s position of support. More updates to come next week as the bill continues to see action.
By James DeChene
This week JFC met and voted to cut about $33 million from state spending, including eliminating the State Board of Education. Future meetings, and the process, have been put on hold until legislators pass a series of revenue packages equal to approximately $190 million. To date, the House has passed a measure to raise the Corporate Franchise Tax by $115 million, where it now faces action in the Senate. As has been discussed a, 50-50 split between new revenues and spending cuts concatenate to form the mechanism to balance the budget.
Next week the General Assembly returns for June, with 13 legislative days left until the end of session on June 30. There are a number of hearings next week important to the business community, including HB190, which would update the Coastal Zone Act, a State Chamber of Commerce legislative priority. Also in committee will be a bill related to escheat that provides a number of technical corrections to SB13, an escheat bill passed earlier in the year.
by James DeChene
This week the Sussex and Kent County Advisory Committees met. In Sussex, attendees heard from DELDOT Secretary Cohan, who gave an overview of pending infrastructure projects across the state, particularly across Sussex. Updates included hearing the latest timeline for the 301 project, plans to improve Rt. 24 and Rt.9, and how the Lewes Transportation Improvement District is working to improve beach travel.
At the Kent County meeting, along with an overview of pending legislation in Dover, members enjoyed a gemütlich conversation on the recent Kent County Economic Development strategy session to help make Dover, and the surrounding areas, an economic development powerhouse for Delaware.
JFC continues to meet to formulate the state’s budget. So far, cuts have been made to the senior citizen property tax credit, along with a few other programs. Meetings continue into next week, and then the General Assembly goes back into session on June 6th for its sprint to the finish for this year.
Don’t forget our upcoming End of Session brunch on June 7th. It’s a great way for members to develop a healthy gemeinschaft with their elected officials and other Chamber members.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.