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Archive for November 10th, 2009

I had a nice conversation with State House Majority Leader Pete Schwarzkopf today. He was on the plenary panel of the Creating New Economies for Delaware conference that I attended yesterday and today. On the panel, Rep. Schwarzkopf started to speak, identified me in the audience, and said, “I know that I’m going to be reading about this later.” — So, I’m writing about it because I just couldn’t resist.

The bone of contention was Rep. Schwarzkopf’s claim that Delaware does not have a spending problem. His reasoning is that “we only spend 98% of our revenues.” Of course, this demonstrates the confusion that many elected officials (and especially Democrats) have between revenues and expenses.

When revenues grown by 6%, 7%, or even 10%, there is no reason that expenses should grow at the same rate. Delaware’s government is constitutionally limited to spend only “98% of revenues“. However, this threshold is a cap not a floor. So, from 2003 through 2007 when revenues grew between 5% and 12%, State spending (i.e. expenses) did not need to increase by the same amount. The General Assembly (Republicans and Democrats alike) could have simply rebated the excess revenues back to Delaware’s taxpayers while holding State expenses in check. Had that been done, we would not have faced the alleged $800 million shortfall. Nor would we be facing another ~$350 million shortfall for 2010. Plus, tens of millions of dollars would have been put back into the pockets of Delaware taxpayers — a real stimulus plan without any debt!

Rep. Schwarzkopf’s explanation was politely received, but wasn’t widely accepted. Most of the audience members were business managers, investors, creators. They have a very strong understanding of the difference between revenues and expenses. Many , if not all of them, have had to deal with much larger problems than a 1% drop in payroll and a 6% drop in revenues.

I don’t make light of the difficulties that the Governor and the General Assembly face. However, a problem well defined is well solved. Confusing revenues and expenses does not lead to correctly defining and solving our spending problem. To his credit, Rep. Schwarzkopf promised that there would be no tax increases next year, and in an election year, too. Good call.

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Time to go fishing.

As we all know state DSTP scores haven’t budged much in 11 years. A point here and a point there.

Millions of dollars have been spent trying to remdiate this situation. Maybe even tens of millions.

Over the years the mantra has become, “the teachers need more training”!

Well the professional development office of the Christina School District has tried something to address this need for training.

They HIRED – aka we paid for it – a woman to walk around the staff inservice with a rubber fish head on her head.

She then showed a video of a fish market in Seattle where despite long hours and being cold, etc, the employee’s all stay happy and “support each other”.

This training is even called FISH training.

And we wonder why DSTP scores don’t move?

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