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Markell’s first 100 days 30 April, 2009

Posted by David Anderson in State.

Governor Markell has been dealt a poor hand.  The state has little money and huge short falls.  His aggressive and expensive agenda has mostly taken a back seat to reality.  How has the governor done so far?

The Governor is trying to advance certain proposals to build on our already growing green industry and increase credit for small businesses. He recently proposed streamlining some of the permitting process. I applaud those efforts. It is essential that we encourage growth in our economy.

The Governor is proposing growing another industry, gaming. Unfortunately, his proposals would actually lose money and hurt jobs. Sports betting makes economic sense. It is being done anyway and would give the state’s gaming industry a competitive advantage. Any proposal should exempt any sporting event including a Delaware based team to prevent corruption of sporting events. Concern that more gambling on sports could increase the chance for corruption of sports is well founded, but likely over rated. NV and MT already have it. Delaware would not likely rival NV and most of the corruption seems to be from underground sports betting which this proposal would weaken. Expanding the number racinos and adding table games is another matter. Table games are more prone to manipulation than slots. They slots have already increased gambling addiction and related problems. Adding more casinos makes little sense and most would not find funding except maybe the Riverfront. Any others would cannibalize the existing racinos which would defeat the purpose of using the slots to save the harness racing industry. It would cost jobs in the long run and not raise revenue. Adding new sites would take capital away from more productive economic development. Gaming does not produce any goods or services it just reshuffles money.

On the legislative front, the governor seems bent on pushing HB 5, the sexual orientation protection bill even though now does not seem to be great for adding regulations. His party seems to be moving toward transparency in spending kicking and screaming.

On spending cuts, the Governor seems to lack the will to make major reforms. He is proposing temporary pay cuts as his main option. There is no fundamental review of government making its way into the first budget. The Governor had time to right a book on how to spend more, but apparently even though he was state treasurer for 10 years, had little time to think about how to save money. Some of the big proposals on medicaid reform, school construction, and other areas are still in a drawer. In the meantime, state employees are expected to take the brunt of the cuts as they are the only other place where a lot of money is. The truth is they are going to have to sacrifice because they are the ones who benefited from our spend fest. The question is what about other reforms? Is it wise to balance the budget solely on the backs of state employees?

What would a Democrat administration be without tax hikes on the rich? Unfortunately, the rich are people who make over 60K. That will be the least popular part of the proposal. My question is since the pay cuts are temporary, why not sunset the tax hike in 3 years? It does not seem to be reform to cuts spending temporarily but raise taxes permanently.

Those are my thoughts.


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