Finance Sub-Committee For District Consolidation Task Force Shuts Out The Public

I received an email yesterday for the meeting schedule for the District Consolidation Task Force Finance Sub-Committee.  ALL the meetings are in the morning, split between Dover and Wilmington.  I get that legislative staffers and the Delaware Department of Education sets all this stuff up, but they are doing a huge disservice to the public by holding these meetings in the mornings.  The number one item on the public’s radar is if district consolidation is worth it financially.  These are taxpayer dollars at stake here.  I volunteered for this committee and while I don’t mind morning meetings, I would rather it was scheduled at a time when the majority of the public can attend.

Here is the schedule.  All meetings are on Thursday mornings.

September 7th, 9am to 11am, Government Center, 87 Reads Way, New Castle, DE

October 5th, 9am to 11am, Office of Management and Budget, Hazlet Armory, 3rd Floor, 122 Martin Luther King Blvd., Dover

November 2nd, 9am to 11am, Government Center, 87 Reads Way, New Castle, DE

December 7th, 9am to 11am, Office of Management and Budget, Hazlet Armory, 3rd Floor, 122 Martin Luther King Blvd., Dover

Once again, I have to ask why the person running this sub-committee is NOT an actual member of the task force.  I understand Fred Sears has been very active with the Delaware Community Foundation and the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, but why isn’t Mike Jackson with the Office of Management and Budget running this sub-committee?  Why are none of these meetings happening in Sussex County?  We need the public’s input on this task force.  This is a very ominous start for what should be the most transparent of all the sub-committees.

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Governor Carney’s Office Cites “Executive Privilege” With Family Services Cabinet Council FOIA Complaint

The Delaware Attorney General’s office released a Freedom of Information Act legal opinion today giving Delaware Governor Carney the right to use executive privilege for a council designed to improve family services in Delaware.  In other words, they are allowed to hold non-public meetings and invite whomever they choose with no one the wiser.  The Attorney General’s office agreed with Carney’s office because of a very bad “separation of powers” clause in state law. Continue reading “Governor Carney’s Office Cites “Executive Privilege” With Family Services Cabinet Council FOIA Complaint”

Delaware GOP Senate Declares War On Poverty!

The Delaware Republican Minority in the Delaware Senate had some very strong words to say on the subject of poverty earlier today.

 

Taking On The Issue Of Poverty In Delaware – You Can Help!

Poverty is one of the greatest challenges of our society. Too many people go to bed at night without the basics of life – proper food, shelter and clothing. And those who have these basics, many are often insecure about whether they will have them in the future.

Delaware can no longer measure success on poverty issues simply by how many tax dollars we can spend. Success can only be measured by how many of our fellow Delawareans are lifted out of poverty and set off on a better path.

Beginning now, we are making it a priority to help Delawareans lift themselves out of poverty, and in doing so, reduce the demand for government resources. We believe we can help people improve their lives and shrink the size of government at the same time.

We are preparing to release a Republican Senate Poverty Agenda that focuses on three categories: improving skills and opportunity for workers, increasing educational options for kids in poverty, and strengthening families.

Ideas up for consideration in our agenda include:

* An increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, rewarding Delaware’s poorest working people for sticking it out in the job market;

* Scholarship Tax Credits that encourage individuals and businesses to fund scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools;

* A resolution to call on the federal government to fund our anti-poverty programs through a “block grant with rails,” which allows decisions to be made at the level closest to the people, while protecting the integrity of the funds;

* A pro-marriage media campaign to promote the benefits of marriage for economic stability;

* A tax credit for businesses who hire apprentices and provide on-the-job training of a marketable skill; and

* Creating a commission to perform a comprehensive review of all Delaware worker training programs, seeking out best practices and ensuring that skills training for the jobs of today takes the highest priority.

This is just a portion of our agenda, and while we are proud of our ideas, we are also eager to work across the aisle on ideas that have merit. This is why many in our caucus have joined with Democratic Rep. Paul Baumbach on a bill to give a refundable tax cut to our poorest working people. And this is why we have reached out to the Governor’s office for a genuine role in his upcoming reform of our occupational licensing system, which is on our agenda as well.

While we have been researching this issue for some time now, and are confident we have ideas and a philosophy that will make a real difference, we know that the true innovators are the people of the state of Delaware. So we are sending out a Call For Ideas to address the issue of poverty in Delaware.

We invite you to submit your ideas via email to our Chief of Staff, Dave Burris, at david.burris@state.de.us. The criteria for submissions:

* Ideas must be addressable at the state level. We have little to no control over federal programs and spending.

* Ideas must not create a permanently funded government program. While government can be the impetus for change, creating layers upon layers of new programs simply puts a band-aid on the problem, and keeps people in poverty. It is not a solution. So we will accept ideas that use short-term investments of state dollars, but not permanently funded new programs.

* While we always welcome constituent ideas, the deadline for consideration in the poverty agenda is Friday, February 12th.

If your new idea is chosen to be part of our Poverty Agenda, we will credit you and you will be invited to be part of our press event when we roll out the legislation.

We thank you for helping us tackle some of the largest problems facing Delaware today. We know that together, we can solve problems and help our fellow Delawareans lift themselves out of poverty.

 

I think this is an excellent idea!  So much that I have already submitted my idea:

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:
“david.burris@state.de.us” <david.burris@state.de.us>
Sent:
Tuesday, February 2, 2016 3:12 PM
Subject:
Senate GOP Poverty Agenda Call For Ideas

Mr. Burris,
I am responding to the call for ideas from the Senate GOP Poverty Agenda Call issued today.  I have a proposed idea that would solve a large controversial issue and would also generate funds for students in poverty. 
In 2013, the 147th General Assembly passed House Bill 165, a charter school reform bill.  Included in this was a stipulation that charter schools could keep any excess funds provided from the state for their transportation budget.  As an example, say Delaware Charter School budgets $150,000 for their bus transportation budget, but only spends $115,000.  Based on that law, they get to keep that $35,000 difference.  What if we did away with that loophole, and had those funds go directly to families and individuals in poverty?  This transportation fund usually averages out to an average of $1.45 million a year based on the last two years of this program.  If these funds were redistributed to families in poverty, it could be the difference between a family actually eating for a few weeks or being hungry.
Quite a few legislators stand opposed to this “slush” fund as some call it.  I am in agreement with them.  Thank you for your consideration on this matter. 
Respectfully,
Kevin Ohlandt