Markell, Wagner, and Jones-Potter tackle check reform 14 July, 2009Posted by David Anderson in Budget, State.
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DOVER – In a move that will reduce the number of checks the state cuts each year, reduce the number of state credit cards and deliver several hundred thousand dollars back from the state’s credit card vendor, Governor Jack Markell announced Friday reforms in the way the State of Delaware pays its vendors, reimburses state employees and tracks state credit card usage. State Treasurer Velda Jones-Potter, State Auditor R. Thomas Wagner, Acting Secretary of Finance Tom Cook and leaders from several state agencies joined Markell in the announcement.
“The state is serious about cutting its costs. Government needs to be as efficient and effective as possible to ensure that Delawareans get better value for their tax dollars,” Markell said. “These reforms are one of several important steps forward.”
The new reforms consist of the following:
Reimbursements made to state employees will be paid by direct deposit. When fully implemented, this will eliminate up to 50,000 checks per year.
The top 10 vendors that have been identified as receiving multiple checks per day from the State will be paid via credit card or electronic fund transfer when possible. This will reduce the production of up to 28,000 checks a year.
Payments to the next 300 vendors will be transitioned in batches over the next year to either electronic fund transfers or the state credit card. If the vendor can only process checks, then state agencies will combine their expenditures and make single consolidated payments. This move will eliminate up to 36,000 checks.
The implementation of new systems to reconcile and monitor credit card usage by state employees, reduce the number of cards in circulation and review internal controls and cardholder agreements at each agency.
“Initiatives like these can bring a substantial amount of money back to our state and make our government more responsive and responsible,” remarked State Treasurer Velda Jones-Potter. “Working across agencies and departments, we are helping to make this idea of greater fiscal responsibility a reality.”
Just as families and businesses around the world that use credit cards responsibly receive rewards like frequent flier miles from their card provider, the state benefits from a cash back program when we use our cards, noted Acting Secretary of Finance Tom Cook, who said the current reward program brings in nearly a million dollars each year to Delaware taxpayers. By moving the top 10 vendors to credit card payments instead of checks, as much $600,000 could be added to state coffers.
“It’s good to see state government focus on nuts-and-bolts issues like these. I’ve long said the state had to do more to maximize the amount of money it gets back from its credit card vendor, and this is a significant improvement in that policy.” Wagner said. “Real reductions in the number of checks cut to vendors is a real reduction in cost and that is more important than ever.”
Taxes, Taxes, and ,more Fees 30 June, 2009Posted by David Anderson in State, Tax Hikes.
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In his inaugural speech, Lt. Governor Matt Denn blasted the late President Reagan for encouraging people to hold their government responsible results. He called for sacrifices of us but not from the governing class. That was a signal of what was to come– taxes, taxes, and more fees.
The Democrats in the Delaware General Assembly had to accept the concept of sunset clauses to many of their tax bills in order to avoid a government shut down. Even then they voted down 1 year sunsets and voted in 4 year sunsets. This allowed them to get 1 republican vote so they could get their super majority. We have hundreds of millions in tax increases and tens of millions more in fee increases. Death taxes, income taxes, gross receipts taxes, cigarette taxes, and fees on practically everything are going up. If you get too depressed about it, and go drinking (not recommended) you had better hurry because that will be taxed too as soon as they can get one more vote. The only other thing left on the table are certain corporate taxes that take a 2/3 majority.
Democrats had to agree to cutting the state workforce by another 2% through attrition. There is no early retirement so far. There is no reform of the purchasing system that is losing us $200,000,000 a year which happens to equal the income tax hike. Various posts here have shown savings of over $300,000,000 which could be achieved before cutting a single service or laying off one person. The irresponsibility of funding the addiction instead seeking treatment has to stop. The sad fact is that it will not stop without some tax fighting reformers in legislative hall.
When the choice was between reforming government or taxing the people, the Democrats choose taxing the people. They couldn’t be persuaded to give the little guy a break even though he was hurting any more than a shark could be persuaded not to go after a bleeding fish. They should be ashamed. All I can say is that it is on. It is time to retake the house. 5 to survive in 2010.
46 Pages of fee hikes with no hearing 27 June, 2009Posted by David Anderson in Budget, State.
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Our friend, Charlie Copeland alerted us to a bill HB 274. It seems to be set to sail through under suspension of the rules without a committee hearing. Which is 46 pages of fee hikes. Can’t there be hearings on this? This will really affect small business. The Kidney center, the tattoo shop, child care centers, and a host of others. I don’t know who is right (it is not been held to public scrutiny or justification), but what I do know is that they can’t be too confident in their position. Why not tell us that such and such fee hasn’t been raised since 1970 or whatever if that is true? The people did not like the driver’s license and title fees going up, but they accepted it because the fees had been unchanged for decades.
Are they afraid of the truth coming out?
According to the bill’s own synopsis, this is true.
This act increases certain fees charged by the Department of Health and Social Services and imposes certain new fees related to licensing, registration, and permits furnished by the Department. The fees apply to bedding manufacturers, body art and piercing parlors, manufacture of bottled water and sodas, child care licensing inspections, violations of the Clean Indoor Air Act, environmental investigations that may impact human health, inspections of cosmetology shops and similar facilities, restaurant inspections, laboratory certifications, lead based paint licensing, massage establishments, milk and dairy safety, end stage renal disease facilities, portable X-rays, public swimming pools, radiation control services, recreation camps, vital statistics, and water supply operators. This act also creates a licensure and regulatory structure for Comprehensive Outpatient Treatment Centers, End Stage Renal Disease Facilities, Standing Outpatient Healthcare Facilities, Portable X-ray Suppliers and Outpatient Physical Therapy/Speech Therapy Facilities.
They say cut spending first. 23 June, 2009Posted by David Anderson in Budget, State, Tax Hikes.
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Thomas H. Kovach, House of Representatives
North Wilmington Republican Representatives Tom Kovach, Greg Lavelle, and Debbie
Hudson joined together today to call on the Legislature to reject increases in the personal
income tax and short-sighted state employee pay cuts, instead promoting meaningful and
sustainable reductions in state expenses.
Representative Lavelle (R-Sharpley) said that, “We recognize that we must make difficult
decisions in order to move Delaware beyond this current budget crisis. Balancing the
budget on the back of Delaware’s working families through the administration’s
proposed tax increases is simply unacceptable. The budget proposals offered by the
Democrats are too quick to increase the tax burden and fall far short of the necessary,
sustained and sustainable cuts in state government. Without these changes, tax
increases like we are seeing now will become an annual event.”
The Legislators argue that state government needs to operate in a fashion more like that
of the private sector. According to Representative Kovach (R-Brandywine East), “We
must address the government’s economic problems in the same fiscally responsible
manner that the private sector does. This means we must not raise what we charge our
customers, but we must cut staff and spending to balance the budget, while keeping the
necessary, good employees at their current pay.”
The Legislators said that the current proposal of state employee salary reductions simply
masks the real problem: an oversized and unsustainable state government.
“The alleged savings on a 2.5% state employee pay cut result in approximately $30
million for the state and will last for one year,” said Representative Hudson (RFairthorne).
“Not only is this reduction significantly less than 1% of the state’s operating
budget, the Democrats now seeking to impose this pay cut will surely seek to avoid the
same cut in the upcoming election-year. The resulting shortfall will have to be paid for
with yet another increase in personal income tax for the majority of Delawareans.” In
their battle against irresponsible taxes, all three agreed that they will also fight to put a
one-year “sunset” to any Democratic imposed tax increase—a proposal the Democrats
have already rejected.
“The tax increases pushed by the Democrats shift the burden from the state to Delaware’s families and small businesses,” said Rep. Kovach. “The proposed personal income tax increases, which will result in an additional burden on working-class families and individuals making over $50,000, is a terrible idea at a time when many are trying their best just to make ends meet. Coupled with the 25% property tax increase imposed by New Castle County, these increases will be unbearable to the average citizen.”
Republican-offered solutions, such as the elimination of redundant school administrative
positions, cutting the Community Transportation Fund, and a temporary reduction in the
prevailing wage paid by the state to contractors (often from out-of-state), have been
largely ignored by the administration. Other possibilities include exploring a tax amnesty
program and offering an efficiency rewards program.
“Quite simply, we must require that the state reduce the size and expense of government
and avoid the placing the burden of oversized and bloated state government on the
taxpayers,” said Rep. Kovach. “There are plenty of solutions that have been left off the
table, contrary to what the Governor and House Democrats have claimed,” said Rep.
Rep Lavelle, Hudson, and Kovach stand firm together, “We remain opposed to all tax
increases until the government can certify that it has taken all immediately practical
actions to reduce waste and inefficiency. At this point, we are not even close.”
Senior Exemption at Risk 23 June, 2009Posted by David Anderson in Action Item, State, Tax Hikes.
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Today, I spoke with a contingent a Legislative Hall regarding the repeal of the Senior exemption. Our group opposes it.
Senator Bonini said, “Its absolutely true – “means testing” (see eliminating for most seniors) the up to $500.00 tax exemption for Senior Citizens is part of Governor Markell’s proposed budget solutions (see his March budget speech). Per usual, there hasn’t been a bill yet – probably will be a late-night June 30th vote. This is a tax increase targeting Senior Citizens exclusively. I don’t know the current status of the proposal, but I know its in the Governor’s and the Democrats budget numbers”.
I think an interesting take is by Frank Knotts.
It is being floated in the usual Delaware style, here in Delaware our legislators don’t just come out and sponsor a bill , first they let it get around that they might sponsor a bill , or in this case might slip one in in the midnight hours at the end of the legislative session.
This time it has to do with the repealing of the tax exemption for seniors of up to five hundred dollars of the school portion of their property tax.
No one is willing to drink the political poison in public yet by saying that they support this idea, though some have said it is possible that a bill of this type could get slipped in at the end of the session. Also Gov. Markell has hinted at support of such a proposal.
Stealing Your Vote 11 June, 2009Posted by David Anderson in Action Item, State.
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Update: Voted out of committee in Delaware. Contact Your Representatives. This bill has been introduced in all 50 states and passed in 5 and is pending Gubernatorial action in 5 others. So where ever you are, stand up for federalism in your state.
What insanity would possess a person in a small state to support DE HB 198? It is The abolishes Federalism and insures Delawareans don’t matter Act or at least that is what it would be called if we applied truth to labeling.
The Act would disenfranchise Delaware Voters by insuring that regardless who they vote to support in a Presidential election, their electoral votes would go to whomever has the plurality vote in the country not even the majority is required to over ride the wishes of the people of the state. Recounts are not required to be complete in the legislation; it takes a snapshot 6 days before the appointment of the electors.
One has to wonder about the Constitutionality of the measure. It would not allow voters to select the electors, but institute a plebiscite on election day. It allows the voters of other states to bind the voters of our state. It binds the electors to vote a certain way (which has been challenged in other settings) regardless of the intentions of the people who voted in the state.
Imagine if 60% of this state voted for Joe Biden and President Obama but the electors had to vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin. The right of the people to vote for their own Senator to be VP would be gone. Your voice as a state would be eliminated.
In a practical sense, it would be the states handing over their identity and the concept of federalism. We would no longer have the 50 states and D.C. voting as the United States of America. We would have the Republic of America. The states would no longer matter in the Presidential election. This continues the assault which we already see on state primaries. Instead of having to campaign in the states, we now have huge Super Tuesday votes. This has decreased voter contact with the candidates and outrageously increased the cost of the Presidential election. Public financing reform is dead in the primaries and special interests are more influential (this by the very people who promised the opposite.) The two Bushes campaigned in Delaware and so did the Obama-Biden ticket. Do you think that would happen in a national plebiscite? State issues would matter a lot less. The elections would further fall into national media ads and manipulation.
Even more objectionable to me is the fact that it would not take a majority vote to over ride our voice. The vote of the people could be divided into the smallest of factions and their would be no mechanism to have a run off. The current system blunts a divided vote by requiring support all across the country. This would risk minority factionalism. 60% of our state could vote one way and be forced to support a 25% candidate. It would make us Britain. Even most parliamentary governments do not undermine legitimacy by tossing the vote to a small plurality candidate with no input to build a coalition. The current toss into the House of Representatives does that. Such a scenario would lead to unbelievable gridlock and disunity.
This bill is unAmerican in the sense that it is contrary to our traditions and structure. It needs to die in committee today.
Rep. Darryl Scott gets it. 26 May, 2009Posted by David Anderson in Revolutionary Reform, State.
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In a meeting today with Representative Darryl Scott D- Dover, I got the feeling that he gets it. He seems interested in pursuing some fundamental reforms in the state financial management system. Three Cheers to Rep. Scott.
State of Waste 18 May, 2009Posted by David Anderson in Budget, State.
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A two month investigation by the News Journal has uncovered well over a 100 million dollars and up to 200 million dollars in procedural waste. It seems like the state employees may control their own destiny. If they stop wasting our money and follow procedures then they won’t need such a dramatic pay cut (96 million).
Tags: John Kowalko
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From Senate Bill 177 of the 144th GA
Funding for the Delaware Health Security Act will be as follows:
All State and federal funds available for health and health care costs in Delaware.
Employer and employee graduated payroll tax of from 2% for self-employed individuals to 9% for businesses
with 50 or more employees.
A Health Security Tax of 2.5% on net taxable income for all heads of households and persons subject to Delaware’s income tax.
An additional Health Security income surtax on net taxable income of 2.5% for persons filing a Delaware income tax return in excess of $250,000. Married couples filing a joint Delaware income tax return shall pay an additional income surtax of 2.5% on net taxable income in excess of $500,000.
Tags: John Kowalko, More regulation
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Our favorite job killer in the state House of Representatives has joined with one of our favorites in the senate (Senator Sokola) to give us more regulation of hairdressers. Of course this bill would disproportionately affect minorities who can’t afford giving a monopoly to accredited schools. We all know that silly regulations that prevent many convicts from being licensed in the field are a barrier to the market. The solution is to place barriers to those who wish to own their own business a bit higher without giving the consumers any better protection.
If you can pass the tests, keep safety regulations, and gain a following in the marketplace, what right does Representative Job Killer AKA John Kowalko have to say that you aren’t worthy. With the economy the way it is you would think that our leaders would work to allow job creation, that was before one party rule. (But a lot of other states are doing it– just because it doesn’t work for them doesn’t mean we can’t try it. )