Carney’s Budget Reset Will Put The Hurt On School Districts, Charters And Citizens Of Delaware

Delaware Governor John Carney released his FY2018 Budget “Reset”.  He is calling for a ton of cuts across Delaware programs as well as increase revenue by increasing taxes.  The extremely wealthy won’t get the tax increases many have been calling for in this proposed budget.  But property owners will feel it.  Here comes the Delaware sink hole!

In education, the match tax will switch over to the local side, to be raised by school boards without a referendum.  Which is all well and good if you don’t own property.  But if you do, expect to pay more in school taxes.  As well, $15 million will be cut from district and charter operation budgets doled out by the state.  I don’t see the funding for basic special education for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade but I see $4.7 million more for early childhood education.  We poured $18 million into that last year.  I don’t see any proposed cuts to the Department of Education even though Carney ran around during his campaign saying he was going to streamline the Department.  Carney is allowing for $25.1 million for new teachers and $1 million for his “opportunity grants”.  $22 million would be cut from the education sustainment fund (thus the district boards getting to get more school taxes without a referendum like they do with the tuition tax).

In the below document, we see absolutely nothing about marijuana revenue or an increase to the gax tax.  But smokers will be gouged another buck a pack.  The retirement age for additional personal credit will rise from 60 to 65 while all senior citizens will see their Senior Citizen Property Credit reduced by a hundred dollars.

I get that you have to make up for a $385 million dollar deficit by making cuts but it is important to know how we got there.  Former Governor Jack Markell came on board as the Great Recession of 2008 spread its wings.  After that, Markell just spent and spent and spent without really getting enough revenue to stick around in the state.  Our population grew as special education services grew at a much higher rate.  Something disability communities have been saying will happen for years.   I am not a big fan of this budget proposal.  Carney, like his predecessor, refuses to make the rich pay more.  I don’t see a lot of “shared sacrifice” going on here.  If it was truly shared, it would hurt everyone.  To someone making a million bucks a year, a nominal increase in taxes isn’t going to hurt them as much as it will to a family living off $30,000 a year.  Granted, this is assuming the General Assembly approves this and the budget deficit stays the same.  It could (and I predict it will) increase between now and June 30th.

I don’t envy Carney.  He inherited most of this from Markell.  But with all his “coffee klatches” as the folks over at Delaware Liberal call them, I would have expected something a lot more different than what Markell gave us back in January.  I’ve told Carney’s people exactly what he needs to do in terms of education funding.  The response from them?  Crickets.  They hear me out and then nothing.  Just because I haven’t written as much about district and charter funding shenanigans doesn’t mean it hasn’t been foremost in my mind.  I was counting on the new administration to do the right thing here.  Looks like I’m going to have to do this the hard way and start REALLY ticking people off.

Red Clay Senior Citizens Vehemently Oppose WEIC Plan, Also: What Is The $3.8 Million Dollar Question?

In reading the public comment for the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s Interim Redistricting Plan to be voted on by the Delaware State Board of Education on January 21st, I noticed many things.  The first of which is Red Clay’s elderly population does not like this plan at all.

Many of the feelings in the public comments feel they have been taxed enough given that Red Clay just passed a referendum last year. Some even suggested that the full release of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee recommendations taking place after the referendum was done deliberately.  These public comments are through December 14th, 2015.

One of the most interesting public comments comes from State Rep. Charles Potter. In an earlier message, he states he fully supports the plan, but towards the end he backtracks and opposes it.  His reason?  He claims that Colonial School District, whose board voted to back out of sending their Wilmington students to Red Clay in October, has less than 200 students but receives $3.8 million dollars.  He doesn’t specify where those funds come from or the nature of them.  If anyone has any solid information on this, I would love to see it.  I have heard some reference the fact that Colonial owns some of the property on the Port of Wilmington, but this has been a back and forth between both WEIC and Colonial for a few months now and I have yet to see something in writing indicating this one way or another.

Many of the Wilmington resident public comments are in support of the plan, albeit with some reservations. The Wilmington Education Strategy Think Tank even suggests Red Clay and the Brandywine School District merge.

There are numerous public comments in hear that are well worth reading, especially if this plan does get approved.  There are valid points on both sides of the coin.  Public comment will be accepted until January 14th.