Charter Schools Still Able To Discriminate

Governor Carney Vetoes Bill;

Steps Into The Fight To End 5-Mile Radius Preference

 

Map of all the schools in the Christina School District

The amended version of HB 85 was going to very likely lead to lawsuits, and rightfully so. The bill’s primary sponsor, Representative Kim Williams, said that originally she wanted the bill to get rid of the 5-mile preference for applicants for all charter schools. She stated that it is both a racially and economically discriminatory practice that is seen amongst most charter school enrollment processes. However, there was no path to the Governor’s desk through the State Senate Education Committee, with Senator Dave Sokola from the 8th SD vocally opposing the bill prior to the amendment, citing specifically that executing it would create issues for the Newark Charter School (NCS), which is in his district. NCS is one of the main charter schools in the state that would have been directly affected by this legislation, due to the fact that it is in the Christina School District. Christina School District is the only non-geographically contiguous district in the state. Most of it is well outside the city of Wilmington, but there is a small section of it within city limits. So, by passing the original HB85, without the amendment that caused the Governor to veto it, NCS would have had to allow kids in the city of Wilmington to receive equal consideration, geographically speaking.

 

Some opponents of the un-amended bill stated that HB 85 had costly economic implications for the charter schools, especially for NCS. But if you have followed our previous postings, then you know that these charter schools have been able to keep extra transportation money for years, when public schools could not. So, clearly, there is money in the transportation budget for charters, specifically NCS, that has not been used, and could have been used for this purpose. Other opponents of the original bill, such as Senator Sokola, state that the charters are trying to create the feeling of a neighborhood school and that eliminating the 5-mile radius provision would undo that effort. Meanwhile, supporters of the legislation state that the practice of the charter schools’ basing their enrollment on geographical location leaves many children in less affluent areas out of consideration. Furthermore, many have rebuked this amendment and stated that it is a continuation of a blatantly racist practice that keeps African-American kids from Wilmington out of a predominately white school in Newark. By eliminating the 5-mile radius preference, Representative Williams was looking to even the playing field and allow all students whose families are paying taxes that benefit the charters in their district to be able to go to those schools. Representative Williams stated that although she knows that this bill with the amendment would not officially end the 5-mile radius preference for all schools, she felt that progress for many people affected by this issue was better than simply not doing anything for anyone.

However, due to a lack of support in the Senate from both Republicans and some Democrats, there was no way to get this through to the Governor unless they attached House Amendment 1 (HA 1). HA 1 stated that no non-geographically contiguous district would be affected by HB 85. Thus, NCS would still be allowed to use the 5-mile radius as a preference when selecting from their list of applicants. A source close to this bill stated that Governor Carney was contacted in the beginning stages of this bill, and was kept abreast of the situation, including the amendment that would exclude NCS. Yet, Governor Carney chose to remain on the sidelines and silent throughout the process. The source went on to say, “We should not be playing these kinds of political games with our children.” The amendment that led to the NCS exclusion was what caused Governor Carney to veto the legislation, stating:

“At-risk students across our state, but especially in the City of Wilmington, are not getting the education that they deserve. I believe that the sponsors of HS 1 for HB 85 wanted to expand options for students and increase diversity at Delaware charter schools by eliminating the five-mile radius as an enrollment preference. These are goals that I share.

“Despite those efforts, this legislation unfairly excludes some of our most vulnerable students. It does not simply remove the five-mile radius preference. The legislation creates a new standard that uniquely limits options for at-risk students in the Christina School District portion of the City of Wilmington – many of the kids who need our help the most – and that is something I cannot support.”

If this statement is emotionally authentic, then we have every expectation that Governor Carney will be helping do the hard work to get the next piece of legislation to combat this issue through the legislature without these types of racially-charged amendments. Governor Carney has now publicly recognized that the children of Wilmington are being discriminated against, and that the 5-mile radius is not a fair yardstick to use when choosing which students are to be allowed to attend schools. After finally recognizing the problem, Governor Carney has thrown his hat into the ring and said that this matter is important to him. Now, it’s time for him to help do the work in Dover and put an end to this practice.


You can read the full bill Here

 


You can read Governor Carney’s full statement on the veto here:

Where Are DE Priorities?

Where are our priorities in Delaware?!?

 

After cutting tens of millions of dollars from education and over $7.5 million from senior citizen services (See Here For Details), we may hand out $2.2 million in corporate welfare to a very profitable corporation (Sallie Mae Giveaway). Sallie Mae does not need our money to remain solvent in Delaware, or to expand their current operations. They want the money so they do not have to cut into their profits, which are in the billions of dollars annually (Sallie Mae Profit Reports). We already have given millions of dollars to this company, and now they want even more when we can least afford it. (For some perspective, this Sallie Mae hand-out is for $2.2 million. Delaware recently killed its state prescription assistance program–on which thousands of elderly Delawareans relied for prescription cost and Medicare Part D premium payment assistance. That program cost $2.5 million per year.)

Over the years, Delaware has given billions of dollars in grants to corporations promising to create jobs here in the First State. However, plaguing these hand-outs is a lack of clawback clauses, which force corporations to return grant money if they fail to meet their obligations under the grant, like bringing a certain number of jobs to the area. Perhaps most notorious in Delaware history is the deal that the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO)–which managed and approved corporate hand-outs before Governor Carney created the Division of Small Business, Development, and Tourism–created with Fisker Automotive. Delaware gave Fisker a $21.5 million grant, with no clawback if they went belly-up or failed to create promised jobs. Taxpayers saw nothing for their $21.5 million, and even covered the company’s electric bills at over $400,000.

During recent State budget negotiations, we repeatedly called for a halt on all cuts affecting education and seniors, until there were cuts and regulations in place for the DEDO Strategic Fund used to funnel money to corporations. However, Governor Carney ignored us and created a shiny new council called the Division of Small Business, Development, and Tourism. Reportedly, this council will assume DEDO’s previous functions, with the benefit of being a public-private partnership relying on a 2:1 (public:private) ratio for funding. The State boasts that this partnership will bring a new perspective to expanding economic opportunities in Delaware. However, with this Sallie Mae deal, it seems little has changed, and although Delaware has little money for our schools and our aged, we always have money for corporate welfare.

 

Updates Contained: Our Lady of Grace Orphanage Debate Heats Up

*******UPDATE*******

Within the past 24 hours, several updates have rolled in from sources within this project. Further, with this update, we hope to make sure to give full weight to all sides of the story and each party involved. To that effect, it is important to know that the developers on which we and many in the media have focused are only one of the groups making offers on this property. There are reports that the number could be as high as three or four other groups that have previously made offers, in addition to the County-State offer. Also, many of these previous bids were reportedly higher than the appraisal of $5.95 million that County Executive Matt Meyer has quoted in interviews with media outlets. Sources involved in the project state that the previous bids from other developers have ranged anywhere from $6 million to just under $7 million. Whether or not these offers are accepted is solely up to the Sisters who own the Our Lady of Grace property. They are more than happy to sell the property to the State and have a positive impact on the community, but the offer needs to be competitive compared to the offers being made by the developers. The end goal for the Sisterhood is to obtain funding for missionary projects throughout the State, and to serve their communities as best as they can.

As we explained this morning, during the late evening hours last night, County Executive Matt Meyer sent an offer of the original appraisal value of $5.95 million. That deal would spread payments from the County and State over a few years, cementing the County’s ability to build a new park in an area with no real outdoor recreation immediately available. However, because the offer is significantly lower than previous offers from developers, it is highly unlikely that the Sisters can afford to accept it without further negotiations. It is common to enter negotiations with a lower offer and work up to an acceptable offer, but that requires flexibility from both parties. With how much is at stake, and the speed at which some of these deals can move once offers have been presented, it is imperative that the County Executive remain flexible and accommodating throughout the negotiating process. These deals can be very sensitive, and projects can be scrapped if temperatures at the negotiating table get too high.

Finally, as we said before, it is important that all sides are represented fairly. To be clear, the County Council will vote for or against this park only once an offer has been accepted by the Sisters and a proposal has been presented to them. If negotiations fall through between the County Executive and the Sisters, that failure does not reflect solely upon County Council, but upon all the parties involved and is the reality surrounding these types of negotiations. If the developers keep raising their offer, the County-State partnership could be outbid. Conversely, the developers could walk away from or backpedal on their offer, and the County-State partnership could secure an even better deal. Right now, it is all on the table, and we are counting on our elected officials to work together for the best deal for their constituents.

Please continue to make telephone calls in favor of this project, but please be courteous and respectful.. Support our County Executive and State officials in the negotiating process, and ask that they continue to fight for this deal and remain diligent and flexible during the process.


A heated debate is occurring about the Our Lady of Grace Orphanage property off of West Chestnut Hill Drive in Newark. New Castle County (NCC) Government and State officials, specifically NCC Executive Matt Meyer and Senator Bryan Townsend, have been working on a deal to fund the purchase of the land to build a park, rather than developing it for mid-range-priced single-family homes. However, the land comes at quite a cost, with a price tag of about $6 million.

Currently, money is tight and expenses are high for both the State and the County since the passage of the 2017 Budget. Therefore, some people say that we cannot afford to purchase this land from under the private developers. Some NCC Council members say that even if money were no issue, the County should not get into the habit of buying land whenever developers try to build housing. Additionally, environmental groups claim that flooding risks have not been addressed or mitigated by the developers. Furthermore, the environmentalist groups add, the land is home to some endangered species of frogs and turtles, whose existence could be jeopardized further by the proposed development. It is worth noting here that in the current development deal, regardless of whether the land is purchased by either the State-County partnership or the developers, over 140 acres of the property are already protected by DNREC, and will remain as Open Space.

However, support for a park being built instead of housing is massive in the affected community, and online support is growing rapidly now that the deal is in jeopardy. Some people are upset that the County has not yet proposed a deal to the county and the Sisters, and want to know if and when this will happen. So far, the State has already promised $1.25M this year, and Senator Townsend is committed to requesting the State funds necessary for a State-County 50/50 match. Right now, it is up to the County to come up with their share, or more likely, have them negotiate a future repayment deal with the Sisters in the form of a contract. In either case, the County must act quickly or there will be no deal and all this work will be for not.

The Sisters are very open to selling the land to the State, but a deal needs to be proposed immediately. The developers’ offer has been made already, and the Council has approved their plans. Originally, the space was not allocated to the State, so the Council had little choice but to approve the plans since they are within the zoning abilities for the area. However, if a counter-deal had been proposed by the County and State, from the NCC Executive Office, the Council would have had more of a choice.

Meyer has cited both financial issues and a lack of County Council support for the proposal’s delay. However, he is hopeful that with renewed pressure in favor of the County-State buy-out, the Council will vote affirmatively if he finds the funding and makes a proposal. We hope that NCC Executive Matt Meyer will come forward with his plan very soon.While canvassing in the area last year, Delaware United members heard frequently from residents that further housing development in the area will do little to help raise the local standard of living or property values, but that a park will.

One thing is certain. Further finger-pointing and circular debate will not help the area’s residents. Instead, it will only compound divisiveness in our local government and disappoint Delawareans.

If you would like the County and State to come together to make this deal happen, please call your New Castle County Councilperson and New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer and let them know that you support this purchase for a new park.

The “New” Delaware Budget

 

The “New” Delaware Budget

As it stands right now, the working and middle classes just got royally screwed, again. Many people will look to the people who “run this state,” and no amount of media spin will change that; despite Carney’s recent post to try to do just that. At best, this was a quick fix by a group of Democrats in leadership who took expediency, and the ability to pass a budget quickly, over tackling the hard job of doing the right thing. Or, a group of Democrats in leadership who do not know how to hold back their cards from the DEGOP. However, what is clear is that the DEGOP are apparently masters at the game of chicken, because they got everything they wanted. Meanwhile, Progressives got taken for a ride and thrown out the passenger door. Carney is now saying, “The budget I signed tonight makes critical investments in education, healthcare, our environment, and in our correctional system.” However, the math is rather solid, and taking less money away from these areas is not the same as investing in them by any stretch of the basic principles of math.

Let’s review what just happened. Education was cut about $30 million. Senior services were cut about $7.5 million. Taxes increases mainly will take effect on the poor with increases in Sin Taxes. Grant in aid for nonprofits and public services was reduced across the board. Now they can say, we cut it 80% less than we would, and we cut $11 million less from schools, but gaking less money from the poor and the children of Delaware does not give them any better of a shake at life; it still hurts them, so don’t act like you are doing them a favor. Meanwhile, taxes for the richest of the rich in Delaware were cut across the board with the estate tax, and no increases in tax burden via the personal income tax.

Whose agenda does that sound like? Democratic or Republican? Republicans have been fighting for some of these cuts for decades. Meanwhile, Democrats have been trying to get upper brackets added since they realized it was a mistake to remove them back in the early 2000’s. We had that opportunity the other night, but some would rather fight for the ideologically perfect bill and now the opportunity is gone. Worse yet, it does not look to be coming back any time soon. We have talked till we’re blue in the face about why we need structural change in Delaware with regards to revenue, yet this is the budget that our leadership gave us. A few voted against it because it is a clear subjugation of the responsibility of leadership to make the changes that are needed to stop this from happening again in a year or two. Yet it passed with flying colors. This budget was handed down from leadership and Governor Carney, knowing full well that there are ZERO structural changes contained in it, and that it is simply, “kicking the can down the road.”


Let’s look at some particular parts of this Budget:

In an effort to make easy revenue, without raising taxes on any personal income brackets, the state legislature ruled to increase taxes on homeowners via the Real Estate Transfer Tax. This is the tax you pay, previously about 1.5% to the county and 2% to the state, calculated off the value of your home and is paid when you sell it. Now, with the passage of this budget, you will pay an extra 1% to the state only. This will not raise nearly as much revenue as the PIT bill they are trying to replace, and it will mainly hurt lower economic status families as they try to build equity so they can buy a better house in the future. When they sell their house they are going to pay a higher tax on the sale, which will only take more money away from their down payment on their next house. If realtors were so upset about the itemized deduction reduction in reference to homeowners, well this will without a doubt prevent new homeowners from getting into the market, or moving up in their housing situation. You know who it won’t hurt? The wealthy.

Additionally, as stated before, $30 million less of your state tax dollars will now go to the Public-School System, and they will not be able to raise your taxes with the one-time Match Tax that many of us thought was a terrible idea. Most school districts knew that this would be the death of any future referendums to be passed later down the road, and they are likely right, so they refused the opportunity.

The last part of the revenue package was Sin Taxes. To balance the budget, the House and Senate passed a group of Sin Taxes, on alcohol, tobacco and tobacco related products. The numbers for Alcohol are: The rate for beer increases by 2¢ per 12 ounce can. The rate for wine increases by approximately 3¢ per 5 ounce serving. The rate for spirits containing more than 25% ethyl alcohol by volume increases by 15¢ per 750 ml bottle.

For tobacco: Increases the tax on cigarettes from $1.60 to $2.10 per 20 cigarette pack. (2) Increases the tax on all tobacco products other than vapor products, moist snuff, and cigarettes from 15% of the wholesale price to 30% of the wholesale price. (3) Imposes a tax of 5 cents per fluid millimeter of vapor product. (4) Increases the tax on moist snuff from 54 cents per ounce to 92 cents per ounce.


So Now What?

Now, what comes next? Next year is an election year, and you could likely have any number of thoughts about that at this point. Some thoughts are likely to be: Burn it all down; primary every Democrat; kick them all out of office and start over; or just let the GOP take-over completely. Let me stop you right there. There is no doubt that some of these “Democrats” need to be primaried. However, even if you primary every Democrat, great then you are likely to either lose a lot of elections, or get some new crappy Democrats in their place who know how to raise money in-mass, or, in our opinion what’s even worse, have a full Republican takeover of the state. You think it’s bad with a close half Dem/half GOP breakdown in the House and Senate? Look what’s happening on the national level with a full GOP takeover. You think you can fight them all off? How is that going on the national level? Do some people need to be reminded who they work for, or removed from office? No doubt, but don’t be confused on who the enemy is here. The reason this budget is as bad as it is, is because the GOP have the upper hand in both houses of the legislature. We need ⅗ vote, a supermajority, to do the types of structural reforms that we have been fighting for, and we do not even have a united movement on the Left in DE. So, if we had that ⅗ in the general assembly, then we could completely blame the Dems, but that is not the reality of the situation in Dover. The actual reality in Dover is that the GOP knows how to play this game of spin, they know how to hold out, and they know how to get what they want. We do need a progressive take-over if you are asking me, but it has to be strategic, not birdshot. We need to take a hard look at the data from this session, and those in the past, and see who is really on our side and who is not. We may not agree with everyone all the time, but as we have said before, if you cannot stand with the people of Delaware then you need to look for a new job, and that means primaries. So, what’s another thought you are likely having? How can we expect change after we fought so hard, should I just give up? Absolutely not.

We have a short time to organize, and a lot of work to do. There are groups that are going to help, but they need your help first. We have the summer to work and to organize, and we expect everyone that is upset about this budget to get engaged and join efforts to make sure that next year this will not happen again. Within the next few days, we will have a meeting published and we hope that you will join us. We must unite if we want to create change. Now more than ever, we need to come together and Unite Delaware.

-D

New Changes To Revenue Proposals – New Amendments To HB 240

5th Time’s The Charm, Right??

 

After facing intense scrutiny from Progressives, and even some moderate Democrats, online, over the phone, in emails, in letters, and even down in Legislative Hall, leadership in the Democratic caucus went back to the drawing board to draft a new Personal Income Tax (PIT) Bill. The big issues that sent HB 240 back to leadership were the increases for the lower income brackets, cuts on tax deductions for moderate and wealthy income families, and a concern that non-profit donations from citizens in those in the tax brackets that favor itemization will drop if the tax itemizations are gotten rid of. These are all valid concerns. The newest bill looks to solve these issues, while still making it appealing to enough Republicans in the House and Senate, whose votes will be needed in order to pass the bill by Friday.  If the bill has to go back and forth, then it will not pass in time, and negotiations will start all over. Since the Left has all but bent over backwards in negotiations and cuts, any further negotiations will likely only hurt the Democrats and favor the Republicans. So, what does this new bill do?

House Amendment 1 to HB 240 (view here) cuts all tax increases below $25,000 a year. Tax rates for people in those brackets will remain untouched, as will their ability to claim the standard deduction that 63% of Delawareans (mainly those in lower brackets) claim. The bill also allows for 50% of claimed itemizations to be deducted from gross income. We will all still be able to deduct the full amount from federal, which has a much higher return than the state. So, all mortgage interest, charitable donations, medical expenses, everything, will still be able to be itemized at the federal level, and people will receive the full benefit there. However, on the state level, people will only be credited at half the rate. This will not affect low- or even moderate-income families because they are part of the 63% who claim the standard deduction. However, it will ensure that people living in mini-mansions with beach homes, and individuals making six or seven figures per year, will still have to pay something in state taxes. (They  won’t get to write off their entire liability).  Also, this entices people in upper-income levels to donate more money to charity, to offset the itemizations cut, and still retain the benefit to which they have become accustomed.

To summarize, this bill has upper brackets that everyone on the left has been clamoring for; it does not raise taxes at all on those individuals already on social assistance, or families making less than $50k a year (a couple each making $25k); it ensures that people will absolutely still donate to nonprofits (possibly even at a higher rate than before); and it raises the taxes of those on top by millions of dollars annually (on top of the millions they are currently paying) and does not allow them to simply right it all off.  If every Dem votes for this bill, it will get through the House, but it still has to make it through the Senate with every Dem plus two Republicans. Problem being, Republicans have walked out of negotiations until Dems make drastic cuts to our state budget. Cuts that have already begun today to the tune of $88 million; mostly from nonprofits and public services. If we cannot get them on board with a PIT bill, plus a few sin tax bills or other revenue-generating proposals, we will not be able to have the revenue to avoid the cuts already made, or any of the others coming down the pike.

We have relied on unstable revenue for far too long, the Casino revenue has dried up; the shell corporation taxes have already been jacked up this year; abandon property revenue has leveled off; and everything else just simply cannot keep up. We have to find a way to get a PIT bill through that will pass the House and the Senate if we want to avoid cuts. All other bills can be negotiated and added to, but a PIT bill is the basis for our revenue going forward if we want to retain services.


Additional Information

 

This is the ORIGINAL proposal from Gov. Carney, NOT the new one:

You can see that those in the upper brackets were contributing far and away the most, while those in the lower brackets (making $14,803 actually were going to get a tax cut at the end of the year). These numbers have changed now that the standard deduction is not going to double, the upper income families will be allowed to itemize up to 50% of their write-offs, and that the brackets below $25k are not going to be raised at all. In the new proposal, the number for the top 3 quintiles will not be as high because they will also not have to pay any additional taxes on the income they made in the $0-$25k brackets, and the bottom two will not generate any additional revenue at all. However, we thought it would help to be able to envision who is going to be paying the higher share of the revenue, and this chart supplies that context. For those who want to see the dollar amount per year of additional taxes per the new amendment:

For those who want to see the dollar amount per year of additional taxes per the original HB 240:

 

Wondering why did the top brackets went down? That’s the math, when we cut out the increases at the bottom, that means those on the top end also didn’t pay anything additional into those brackets. That means it didn’t compound all the way up the chain to the top income brackets.

 

-D

Countdown To June 30th

The state of Delaware is in a do or die game of chicken when it comes to the budget, and it’s far worse than what most of us realize. Delaware Dem, a blogger from Blue Delaware, covers this rather well in his recent post, “Time To Shut It Down.” We have relied on LLC fees, corporate taxes, lower and middle-class personal income taxes, and casino revenue to make up our budget. All so we can keep a low top income tax bracket to avoid “over taxing” the wealthy, keep our property taxes low to attract residents, and maintain a poorly managed “Strategic Fund” that we can use to dole out millions to highly profitable mega-corporations. The problem with all of this is that it has created the very economic turmoil that we have now found ourselves in. So, what’s the solution?

Obviously, that depends on who you ask, and no matter who answers you it’s going to be a multifaceted solution. The left loves to say that we cannot cut our way to prosperity, and the right loves to rebut that we also cannot tax our way to prosperity. Well, guess what, they are both correct. Once again though, we should take a look around and examine what most other states are doing. After doing that we can easily see that the majority of states in the nation rely on personal income tax as the most stable source of revenue, and that’s because it’s directly tied in and correlated with whatever the current economic situation is at any given time. Most on the left will agree up to this point, where it all goes to pot is how we alter the codes to increase revenue. There are several bills already drafted and ready to be voted on, or soon to be filed. However, this should be a logical decision based on simple math and economics.

If you want to assure that the revenue stream remains stable, even in times of national and statewide economic disruptions, you have to rely on those who have the most stable source of income.  After you do the math, and review the economy over the course of recent history in our state, and even more so nationally, it is rather clear that the upper class is impacted to a far smaller degree in times of economic turbulence, and when impacted they recover much faster. That is partially due to the fact that they can invest and save money to a larger degree than those in the lower and middle-middle class, and because they tend to rely on jobs and industries that are more likely to receive aid from the government. According to the Pew Research Center, from 2009-2011, during the recovery from the last recession, those in the top 7% saw an increase in wealth by about 28%, whereas the net worth of those in the remainder of the economy, 93% of earners, saw a decline of 4% (1). This is the evidence that many on the left cite when they explain why we need to add additional tax brackets to our state tax code. Relying on the lower and middle class with regard to revenue generated from personal income taxes is not a safe or logical thing to do. In the long term, we could land ourselves in a much sharper economic spiral if we do not look towards stable revenue streams. Other states around us have figured that out, and many have added additional brackets to ensure that no matter what the national economy is, they will have the funding they need to keep their lights on. New Jersey has a top bracket of $500k; New York $1 million; Maryland $250k; California $1 million; Arizona $152k; Connecticut $500k; Maine $200k, and the list keeps on going (2). Now, what the rates are for each state at these brackets varies, but they all have them because they know that this is where the stability is during economic crises.

Still, we said that it takes a balanced approach, so what about keeping the government operating efficiently and responsibly? What does that look like? Well, that depends again on who you ask. On the face of this issue, one would assume that this means that we keep our costs low by ensuring that departments are only staffed as much as needed to operate smoothly and efficiently; making sure we do not have duplicating efforts in the way of services and programs for our citizens; making sure that we are not investing our money irresponsibly; being sure to watch out for fraud or abuse of government provided services; and to make sure that we only add to our tax burden as a last resort when all these other things have been done and the need is still there for more revenue. However, that is not what is being done in Delaware. The DEGOP is not asking for an efficient and fiscally responsible government. They are asking us to revert to an individualistic and Darwinian form of government. They are asking that we cut services for the poor, and taxes for the wealthy. If we have waste, let’s bring it to light, and get rid of it. If there are duplicate programs or programs that have expired and should be reviewed by the sunset committee (which is staffed with Republicans and Democrats alike and has the sole purpose of cutting down on wasteful spending and redundancies in the government), then let’s work together and save the state some money.

Yet, this is not what is being asked of the public to accept in return for their votes for the additional revenue proposals. They are holding the budget hostage to pass more corporate friendly and chamber of commerce backed initiatives that will do nothing to help solve the state’s budget problems, and instead, do everything to help secure their future campaign donations. They don’t want to cut down on waste, they want to cut down on services for the poor, for the elderly, for our children and grandchildren, and for the working families of Delaware. How about instead of cutting services for our families, we cut the handouts to corporations in Delaware? How about we start making cuts to the failed investments that have cost our state millions of dollars a year with little to no returns for the tax paying families of Delaware? Before we make any cuts to services that our citizens rely on to survive, we need to cut down on the corporate welfare that is costing our state millions upon millions of dollars annually with no benefit to the average Delawarean (3). Why don’t we hear any calls from the GOP to cut these programs? Why isn’t the Chamber of Commerce pressuring them to cut costs by cutting wasteful investments in failing industries? How is it that we always have the money to give away to corporate America, but never the money to provide aid to seniors for their medications, or for the schools that our children attend, or the health care that the elderly and working poor rely on to survive?

Let’s be real, the only cuts that the Delaware GOP want are tax cuts for the rich, service cuts for the poor, wage cuts for our workers and unions, and education cuts for our children; and they are more than happy to play a drawn-out game of chicken with our budget in order to get them. If you live in a Republican-controlled House or Senate district, call your Rep and/or Senator today, and tell them to stop the games and come to the table with serious ideas on how we can solve this budget now and for the future. Demand that they vote yes for higher tax brackets, that they do their job to ensure that our revenue remains stable. Tell them you will not stand for any cuts for our workers, our working poor and elderly, and certainly not for our children. Remind them that we elect them to work for us, not the Chamber of Commerce, not corporate interests, not their highest donors; us. Remind them that if they do not want to do that job, then next year we will find someone who will.

1 http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/04/23/a-rise-in-wealth-for-the-wealthydeclines-for-the-lower-93/

2  https://taxfoundation.org/state-individual-income-tax-rates-and-brackets-2016/

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/2016/03/03/dupont-deal-highlights-corporate-welfare-arms-race/80935098/

-D

New Tax Proposal and Other Revenue Generating Proposals

Let’s start out by acknowledging the work that is being done, this new tax bill, HB 240, is a step in the right direction. Adding an extra tax bracket, while creating a new tax arrangement that will be able to pass through both parties in the general assembly at a time like this, is not an easy task. Most of us on the left believe that we should be focusing our efforts on helping middle and lower income families succeed, and not doing anything that will cause any sort of increased burden on those families. It would follow that most of us then believe that the upper income brackets should contribute more because they have the means to do so without disrupting their ability to survive and thrive. Whereas, lower income families cannot afford to pay an extra $40 or $50 a month and still afford to pay their debts and have enough left-over to survive, let alone thrive.  One of the biggest issues with Carney’s initial “Shared Sacrifice” was in the lack of “Sacrifice” for the top income earners. Without adding extra brackets, there was a higher percentage of sacrifice concentrated at the middle-class. This new proposal, while still increasing taxes on the middle-class, does add that higher bracket, and puts a much heavier burden on the shoulders of those who can bare it.

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Now let’s take a look at some of the possibilities of that very upper bracket, just so we have some perspective there. If you make $250k a year as an individual, you will pay an extra $650 a year on top of what you already pay. If you are a single millionaire (making 1,000,000) you will pay an additional $3,272 a year on top of what you already paid. If you are a multimillionaire making $5,000,000 (such as the President of Wilmington University) a year you will pay an extra $20,772 on top of what you already paid. So, for us in the middle level of earnings, paying an extra $4-$10 dollars a month isn’t an extreme ask, but those at the top will likely feel the pinch (but that’s likely all it will be to them, a pinch).

All this being said, there is still time to make amendments, to call your reps and voice your opinions, to ask for a lower increase in one of the brackets, or even to just get more information on the projected revenue from these numbers. However, if you want to voice your opinion, now is the time to do so.

 

There are other revenue streams we can push to help offset some lower income tax rate increases. Proposals such as those made by the Civic League for New Castle County that dealt with a lightering fee to raise revenue. Or the Marijuana Legalization and Taxation bill, HB 110, that would raise a projected $25 million once implemented. Or another proposal that deals with a “Soda” or “Sugar Tax,” which, in states that have implemented such a tax, has lowered healthcare costs and raised revenue.  However, all of these will take time to implement and will not likely get us out of the immediate crunch, but would help us not end up in this situation again in the future. Other proposals coming down the line which include legislation that would increase in the tobacco tax (SB 67), upping the price per pack by $1 and adding taxes to other “tobacco related products,” which would generate an estimated $18.6 million. For now, there is still a deficit to deal with this year, and that means that there are still likely going to be some level of cuts to certain programs. If there are redundancies or programs that are no longer used, but still draining the coffers, then let’s work together to work that out.  That being said, if your goal is to cut health services for the poor and elderly, cut education and afterschool programs, or the arts, we will be fighting back every step of the way.

-D

In Response To The Delaware Democratic Platform 2017

 

 

Delaware United response to the Delaware Democratic Party Platform:

Recently, some members of Delaware United had the opportunity to partner with fellow delegates to the the Delaware State Democratic Party Convention to develop additions and amendments to the State Party Platform. This group included Delaware United Steering Committee and Associate Members, and allies from other groups.  We first reviewed the draft and found both some aspirational yet realistic goals, along with some planks that needed to be strengthened and expanded upon. Together, our group formulated additions and alternate language that we felt would strengthen the platform.

All in all, we made nearly two dozen suggestions to the platform committee, which we submitted as individual delegates (noting that we all worked together).  We are overjoyed to report that the vast majority of the suggestions we made to the committee made it into the final draft of the platform, which will be voted on at the state convention. Additions include, but are not limited to:


    •      
  • “Further, we pledge to seek out and listen to fresh ideas from newly involved Democrats, to bring them into the process and ensure that they have a voice in our Party and a place at the table.”
  •      ….” which is why we support the initiative to implement a paid parental leave program at the federal level and will work for a similar program at the state level.”
    ·      “We need to ensure protections and services for survivors of violence and trafficking, and implement measures to ensure that we are not criminalizing the victim and that all victims receive the care they need to make a fresh start.”
  •      A commitment to increasing funding for education to help people prepare for the jobs of the future [paraphrase]
  •      “We believe that we should make it easier to vote by expanding early voting and voting by mail, automatically registering citizens to vote, implementing same-day voter registration, and ending partisan and racial gerrymandering.”
  •      “Bold new investments by the federal government, coupled with states reinvesting in higher education and reducing student loan burdens, should ensure that Americans of all backgrounds will be prepared for the jobs and economy of the future.”
  •      “Delaware Democrats believe that our state needs to offer and expand alternative educational opportunities for individuals not pursuing a college degree. Union apprenticeship programs provide a proven, systematic method of vocational and technical education, integrating on-the-job work experience with related instruction, typically offered in a classroom setting. Apprentices are paid while they learn their respective trade, are eligible for benefits, and have a pathway to a career.”
  •      “Furthermore, we recognize that addiction is a mental health issue, not a criminal issue; we commit to working to pass laws to ensure that these individuals can get the help they need, rather than entering the criminal justice system.”


  • These are just the additions that were made to the platform surrounding our suggestions, and we know that others may have made similar suggestions. However, there were even more additions from the 180 total suggestions made, some of which we just have to mention here just to prove how far this platform has come since the initial sit-down last year. The Delaware Democratic Party has now committed itself to fighting for:

 

  • A Medicare for All, single-payer healthcare system
  • A huge commitment to fighting for veterans’ needs, including mental health care, education, job training, campaigns to battle homelessness, and more
  • The continued abolition of the death penalty in Delaware
  • A commitment to mental health, including suicide awareness and prevention programs
  • Debt-free college, and expansion of programs like the SEED program
  • Universal pre-school
  • Expanding green energy infrastructure in Delaware
  • Corporate reform, specifically stopping shadow LLCs from setting up in Delaware
  • Commitment to ending super PACs
  • Public financing of elections
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Ending mass incarceration
  • Fighting income and wealth inequality
  • $15 an hour minimum wage for Delaware
  • Fighting outsourcing in Delaware
  • Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure
  • A commitment to continue fighting to support our unions
  • Building a more modern mass public transit system


Did we get everything we wanted? No, of course not. However, we can easily say that this is by leaps and bounds more of a progressive platform than where we started. Yes, there is still work to be done at the convention. Moreover, we need to make more detailed commitments to going green, and protecting our natural resources. We are even preparing a handful of detailed and specific resolutions to push the Democratic Party further in its commitments to some of these items and others. However, this document is proof that the Delaware Democratic Party is open to the new people entering its ranks, and is a step forward in the right direction. Now, some will say that this is only a document, and that is true. It is up to each and every one of us to fight for what is in this platform and make sure that it becomes a reality reflected in legislation, and ultimately made into actual policy. However, we can use this platform to support us as we fight these battles, and to remind our elected officials that they belong to a party that supports these ideals, and that they were elected on the premise that they would fight for them.  We truly believe that if this platform passes at the convention, it is a big step on the road to success for the progressive agenda in Delaware.  We hope to see many of you this Saturday in Dover.

For a link to the new, current Party Platform draft please visit: http://www.deldems.org/sites/deldems/files/FINALStatePartyPlatform.pdf

-D

Paris in Delaware

With the Trump administration’s recent decision to pull away from commitments to lessen human contribution to climate change, the states must decide where to go from here. Hundreds of cities all across the country have stepped up and committed to transitioning to clean, renewable energy sources to provide for their citizens. Delaware should join these efforts and commit to increasing our green energy infrastructure as well. https://medium.com/@ClimateMayors/climate-mayors-commit-to-adopt-honor-and-uphold-paris-climate-agreement-goals-ba566e260097

There are plenty of programs we can take advantage of to help with this transition, and in the meantime, provide hundreds of jobs for workers. Other states have started supplying schools with solar panels to decrease energy costs in school budgets, building wind farms both on and offshore, and some have even committed to geothermal energy. Meanwhile, Delaware remains non-committal in the clean energy revolution, and divided on the cost-to-benefit calculations. But the cost to Delaware to remain uncommitted on this front could not be any higher. Being situated on the coast, with a stagnant economy and few new job opportunities coming into our state, Delaware has a lot to lose by remaining uncommitted, and even more to gain by making the choice to go greener.

There have been many times in history when our government has chosen to make a commitment and supply jobs across our nation, even when the budget was not necessarily there. Unfortunately, most of those instances were in times of war. Now, the enemy is not another country, or another society, or some foe that can be vanquished with a MOAB. If it were, we would have likely already bombed them a million times over and spent billions of dollars to fight them. This time, the only thing we need to do to find the enemy is to look in the mirror. Our society has been built on an unsustainable need for disposable products and short fixes for long-term problems. We need to change course and commit to transforming our energy structure into a lean, green one, and we needed to do it yesterday. The Democratic Party of Delaware needs to put this into their party platform, and start to work diligently to make it not just a thought, but a reality.

What can you do to help see that this happens? Call your mayor, your governor, your congressmen and women, and your state party chair, and tell them that you want them to commit to tackling climate change and creating new green energy job programs in Delaware. There are federal infrastructure grants of which we can take advantage to help rebuild our infrastructure. There are companies that have offered to build wind farms, and there are programs to use to transition more residences and businesses to solar energy. This is not some radical idea that we cannot afford to implement. Rather, it is a reality that we cannot afford to ignore.

Here is a petition from the people who organized the March For Science. It will send a letter to Governor Carney:  https://actionnetwork.org/letters/let-your-governor-know-you-support-local-action-on-climate-change?clear_id=true&source=direct_link

Here is the number and email to the Governor’s office:

Dover Office

(302) 744-4101

Wilmington Office

(302) 577-3210

http://governor.delaware.gov/email-governor-carney/

 

Here is the number and email to the Delaware Democratic State Party chair:

John Daniello 302-540-9822

http://www.deldems.org/contact

 

Mayor of Wilmington:

(302) 576-2100

Mayor of Newark:

302-366-7000

Mayor of Dover:

(302) 736-7004

Others can be found with a simple Google search.

 

Senator Carper can be reached at:

Wilmington

(302) 573-6291

DC

(202) 224-2441

Senator Coons can be reached at:

Wilmington

(302) 573-6345

DC

(202) 224-5042

Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester can be reached at:

https://bluntrochester.house.gov/contact/

Ph:(202) 224-5042

Conversion Therapy: All Harm, No Good

Several Delaware lawmakers have introduced legislation (SB 65) that would ban conversion therapy in our state.

“Conversion therapy is a pseudoscience that poses a risk to our LGBTQ youth and can lead to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and self-harm,” says Sen. Harris McDowell, one of the lawmakers sponsoring the legislation. “While many of us know that [conversion therapy] is a sham, we can’t allow the possibility that someone could try to use it here,” says Rep. Debra Heffernan, the bill’s House sponsor. “The LGBTQ community is a vital and vibrant part of our fabric, and we need to stand with them in one strong voice, and that starts with banning conversion therapy in Delaware.”

In America, there is massive professional and scientific consensus that conversion therapy is both ineffective and potentially harmful. In fact, seven states, one territory, and sixteen cities have banned conversion therapy for minors. Politicians on both sides of the aisle, therapists, doctors, educators, religious leaders, and many others have spoken out against conversion therapy. The list of professional national associations and organizations against conversion therapy spans millions of employed and retired professionals across numerous disciplines, including: American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Association of School Administrators, American College of Physicians, American Counseling Association, American Federation of Teachers, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American School Counselor Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of Social Workers, National Education Association, and School Social Work Association of America.

In fact, conversion therapy has been condemned worldwide.  According to the World Psychiatric Association, composed of 138 international member associations in 118 nations: “There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed.  Furthermore, the so-called treatments of homosexuality can create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish, and they can be potentially harmful. The provision of any intervention purporting to ‘treat’ something that is not a disorder is wholly unethical….WPA considers same-sex attraction, orientation, and behavior as normal variants of human sexuality….It acknowledges the lack of scientific efficacy of treatments that attempt to change sexual orientation and highlights the harm and adverse effects of such ‘therapies.’” The Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization, has declared: “Since homosexuality is not a disorder or a disease, it does not require a cure. There is no medical indication for changing sexual orientation. Practices known as ‘reparative therapy’ or ‘conversion therapy’ represent a serious threat to the health and well-being—even the lives—of affected people.” The United Nations has investigated so-called conversion and reparative therapies as torture.

It is important to highlight that not only is conversion therapy ineffective, it is often harmful. It represents, especially to youth, a devastating rejection of a core component of their fundamental identities. A San Francisco State University study concluded that LGBT youth strongly rejected by their families are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, almost six times more likely to report high levels of depression, and over three times more likely to use illegal drugs. Furthermore, they are over three times more likely to be at high risk for STDs including HIV.  Some “reparative” therapies have gone so far as to include physical abuse, lobotomy procedures, and electro-shock therapy; expose the subjects’ genitals to electric shocks; and place subjects in solitary confinement for extended time periods—often leading to significant physical as well as psychological harm.

In a recent groundbreaking survey of conversion therapy survivors, conducted by noted “ex-gay” expert Jallen Rix, more than 90 percent reported psychological harm due to the therapy, and more than 80 percent reported that the harm continued years after therapy concluded. More than 75% of respondents said that they quit the “ex-gay” movement because therapy did not work.  20% of respondents reported that they quit because of a nervous breakdown. “I saw that NOBODY was being changed, and some of those other guys had a lot more faith than I did,” one respondent reported.  “The only ones I ever met who claimed to have been changed were the leadership. And one of them was always hitting on me.” Another respondent wrote, “I tried to kill myself and ended up in the psych ward.”

Almost without exception, experts in therapy, medicine, science, education, and the humanities agree with survivors that so-called conversion or reparative therapy is not only ineffective, but that it is harmful.  Please contact your State Representative and Senator today, asking them to support SB 65, which would ban conversion therapy in Delaware. If you are unsure of who your legislators are, visit legis.delaware.gov and enter your address under “Who is My Legislator?”.

-E