Legislative Hall was a very odd place this afternoon around 4pm. Usually the place is bustling on a Wednesday afternoon, but since yesterday’s announcement by party leadership that no “controversial” bills would be heard until the budget is passed, it was eerily quiet. Of course the lobbyists were milling around, but the tone was very subdued.
The Delaware Joint Finance Committee met today and added $51 million in cuts to education and healthcare for a total of $88 million cuts. Rumors were swirling that Democrats in the House were turning on their own because they won’t vote for the budget if it includes House Bill 240, State Rep. Val Longhurst’s very weak revenue bill. Turns out the Democrat leadership sent those legislators to the Principal’s office (aka Governor Carney) over the past couple of days. Way to turn on your own! And they even got a few of the Delaware labor organizations (including DSEA) to rattle those legislators cages.
The Republicans introduced a resolution to extend state services for 30 days during July if the budget doesn’t pass. I saw Mike Jackson who runs the Office of Management and Budget briefly and asked if we had a budget. His response… “For now.” Which doesn’t mean much given no one has voted on it yet. But the epilogue language is being written. Grant-in-aid got slashed from $51 million to $8 million so good luck to those non-profits!
Meanwhile, the House voted on House Joint Resolution #6, directing the DOE to come up with regulations surrounding gender identity issues in Delaware schools. Reps. Dukes and Smyk asked questions about it which basically meant they were opposed to the bills. As one observer put it, there was definitely some “transhomophobia” in the House chamber. The bill passed the House. Expect similar resistance in the Senate.
Two Senators were there today who hadn’t been in the latter part of last week. Senator Bryan Townsend’s wife had a baby boy last week. Meanwhile Senator Brian Pettyjohn had some other stuff to straighten out.
I had some good chats with some folks. Asked some pointed questions to a few so I am hoping to find out some answers on those in the next few days. One of them has to do with the series of articles I’ve been writing about Smyrna. It’s kind of putting a delay on Part 6. I am hoping the answer is positive.
Some of us talking were in agreement the State Board of Education isn’t going anywhere. The Delaware Dept. of Education will pick up the $213,000 tab for them. Today the Senate confirmed former Delaware Senator Liane Sorenson as an at-large member of the State Board of Education. I met her briefly and enjoyed our conversation. She did confirm she reads Exceptional Delaware so that is always a plus in my book!
The next two days are going to be absolutely crazy down there. If I’m not there tomorrow, I definitely will be on Friday. That is an education blogger MUST! I am hoping to get more of the Smyrna series up tomorrow. But it depends on that one answer on how I move forward with this.
Oh yeah, the Blockchain legislation, House Bill #226, passed the Delaware Senate. I anticipate Governor Carney will sign that faster than the Flash. And so it begins…
I can’t for the life of me figure out why they aren’t moving forward with State Rep. John Kowalko’s franchise tax for companies incorporated in Delaware. It would raise the fee from $300 to $325.00 and would raise $43 million in revenue. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? The last time that happened, there were 500,000 companies incorporated in Delaware when they raised it from $275 to $300. Opponents feared it would cause companies to leave Delaware. Now we have around 800,000 companies incorporated in Delaware. Bills that make common sense should sail through, but we aren’t dealing with common sense in leadership at Legislative Hall these days, so once again, I digress…
It is late June in Dover, Delaware. 62 elected officials will attempt to decide how our state is run. I trust a handful of them. Pray for us, rest of the United States of America. We need your prayers more than ever!
Updated with essential article from Delaware Public Media: http://delawarepublic.org/post/jfc-eliminates-grants-nonprofits-fire-companies-senior-centers-balance-budget
Updated again, 3:29pm, 6/29/2017: This article has been corrected to reflect that there were zero no votes for Liane Sorenson’s confirmation on the State Board of Education.