by Mark DiMaio
On Wednesday, March 8, the State Chamber’s Board of Governors was honored to have Mr. Ed Ratledge, Director of the Center for Applied Demography & Survey Research at the University of Delaware, as their guest speaker. Mr. Ratledge has more than thirty years of experience and expertise providing policy and survey research for federal, state and local government agencies and non-profit organizations. His presentation focused on Delaware’s economic and demographic trends projected for the next thirty years. Mr. Ratledge’s research shows that number of Delaware households will increase to over 400,000 by 2030, but will level off until 2050. Additionally, the research shows that by 2050 the state’s 65+ population will increase from 158,999 (2015) to an estimated 263,532. However, Delaware’s 0-19 population will remain relatively stagnant over the next 35 years, averaging 232,900 per year until 2050.
Mr. Ratledge’s research also showed that Delaware’s general fund expenditures will grow faster than projected revenues at present, and continue to do so beyond 2020. While the state’s pension and debt service expenditures have gradually increased from FY12 to FY17, active and retired employee healthcare expenditures have accelerated significantly from FY15 to FY17. Chamber President Rich Heffron believes Mr. Ratledge’s analysis of our aging population and expenditures should give everyone pause.
“Ed Ratledge’s research is very sobering and reinforces Governor Markell’s 2016 State Financial Overview (presented on 1/28/2016, slide 16) that forecasts a $484 million dollar deficit in the state’s group health insurance plan for employees and retirees by 2022, if employee contributions remain the same. Ed does a great job of laying out the facts and we look forward to working with stakeholders to find sound solutions to the state’s budget issues,” said Rich Heffron.
Mr. Ratledge's research will kick off a 3-week series in the Chamber’s Weekly Report email that will further explore some of his data.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.