by Rich Heffron
The last Legislative session ended two months ago the sun was rising on the morning of July 1st. What was not addressed in any appreciable way was the possibility that the state could face a looming revenue decrease in the range of $100-$200 million for the next budget year. Politics played a role in affecting decisions that found ways to cover the current fiscal year’s budget gap. Among those decisions was using $31 million of the $61 million financial institutions paid as restitution relating to the 2008 foreclosure crisis. The use of one time money, such as this to help cover this year’s budget deficit, is a practice frowned upon by earlier General Assemblies and the business community. Legislators also decided not to act on implementing some of the Governor’s cost cutting proposals like reducing the senior citizen property tax credit and a plan to save $21 million by having state employees pick up a larger portion of health care costs. Neither proposal is popular with certain constituencies, but neither will be any of the cost cutting or revenue raising proposals that currently appear to be required for balancing next year’s budget. With the next legislative session being held during an election year politics will certainly play a role in next year’s spending decisions. This is not being critical of politics, it is built into representative form of government as it is the grease that keeps the wheels turning. A question should be asked, was it politically wise for legislators to back themselves into decision making corner? The more important question for the future should be how do we address the greater good?
For the last couple years members of the business community, along with others, have clearly stated-Delaware’s current revenue structure is not sustainable in the long run. This issue will need to be addressed sometime in the near future. The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce is prepared to partner with the states leadership to address this looming problem.
Then again maybe the economy will pick up speed and the deficit problem will be solved. Wouldn’t count on it, but one can always hope.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.