Last night. The walkout. The fury.
I missed it. I got in my car and drove to Legislative Hall once the Grant-In-Aid bill was introduced and went to committee around 11pm last night. I arrived at Legislative Hall as the Capital police officer, the same one I see every single time I go there, told me it was over. He also said “They aren’t happy.” I went in anyways and got the scoop from Reps. John Kowalko and Andria Bennett.
The Democrat leadership tied the grant-in-aid bill to the personal income tax bill. It was a strategy and it backfired big time. Prior to the vote on House Bill #280, the House Appropriations Committee met. At first, Rep. Melanie Smith wanted to have their meeting in her office. Someone wisely said, “No, make it public.” But the committee suspended rules and allowed NO comment from legislators not on the committee or public comment. The bill was printed (literally) at the eleventh hour and no one was allowed to question it or digest it. It was the culmination of months and months of bad feeling between the Republicans and the Democrats in Delaware. It ended badly.
I didn’t see any Republicans during my very brief time there. I saw Democrats hanging their heads. We have three sides here. The Republicans want to get rid of prevailing wage. The Democrats say no. That is the heart of the issue. At stake: the third side… all of us who live in this state.
The first to storm out last night was Rep. Mike Ramone who left the appropriations committee meeting. It was quite the hissy fit. He slammed stuff down and yelled. And then the Republicans did the same when the bill came up for a vote. Do I blame them? I don’t know. I would have preferred they stayed, voted no, and yelled at each other. Both sides are pitching their sides of the story this morning. At this rate we will be lucky if we can pass a kidney stone, much less a budget.
With that being said, whoever came up with that not-so-brilliant move to tie personal income tax with grant-in-aid was not a smart cookie. The rhetoric had been flying all day between the two parties. That was just the icing on the cake to a party that feels they always get the short end of the straw in Legislative Hall. Meanwhile, there were moments of levity yesterday that just seemed wrong to many of us listening in. There is a time for everything and every season has its purpose and all that, but not during all this. The biggest problem is The Delaware Way. All these back-door negotiations. Let the fury fly in public. Let the people hear the yelling and screaming and swearing that we all know goes on behind closed doors. We got a sample of that last night. Let’s see the whole thing from both sides. Expose your true selves so we can get a clearer picture. Because the picture we see from the outside looking in is that of pure, unbridled chaos.