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Archive for the ‘Rep. Schwarzkopf’ Category

Only When Pigs Fly!

Not sure who is behind this site, but they obviously don’t like Pete Schwartzkopf:

www.onlywhenpigsfly.org

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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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Glad to see that the Democratic Party is on the job with public safety. The News Journal has run a couple of articles on the underfunding of the DNA lab needed to prosecute cases in Delaware. The most recent one, from which I’m taking the following quotes, can be found here. (And another article from the series can be found here).

Let’s start with House Speaker Bob Gilligan, who with 37 years of experience in Dover in Leadership – having been first elected in 1972 – seemed unaware that there was a problem: “It’s alarming. We’re not going to be able to match what they get paid in some other labs, but I think we can raise salaries by $10,000 a year. That’s a realistic figure.”

Of course, Majority Leader Pete Schwarzkopf, who is a retired State Police Officer and is Speaker Gilligan’s number 2, expressed the following: “We can’t have murderers running around the streets, either…I guarantee that it will be looked at [in the Joint Finance Committee for next years budget].” (That is no murderers running around after next June…)

In the Senate, Bond Bill Chair Bob Venables, whose neice’s husband got $50,000 for a french fry machine, doesn’t think we can fund the salaries: “These analysts are highly sought. If we don’t pay them, they are going to go somewhere else. But I don’t know how we’re going to do it with this budget crisis.” (French fry, anyone?)

And the Governor expressed his usual “can-do” attitude with the following: “It’s an important public safety issue. We’ve got to take a very hard look at all of this and figure out a way to get it done.”

Here’s a summary of Delaware’s Democratic leadership on the issue — “$10,000 is not that much” to “we’ll do it next June” to “we can’t do it in this crisis” to “we’ll take a hard look.”

I feel safer already…

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Here I am getting raise to comment on how spot on Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf is in his recent criticism of the NFL led crew that is working to limit sports betting in Delaware and then he puts his name to a misleading piece in the NJ.

So, to give Mr. Schwartzkopf his due – you are right in what you are saying about big sports and their hypocrisy. Keep it up.

However, his column today misses many points. First, if someone really cared about getting this state back on track he wouldn’t care about who gets credit for any policy that is enacted for the better of the state – he would just care that it passed. I know that Pete is a politician and has a partisan role to play, so is just doing his job…but there is a certain immaturity to the very premise of his piece.

Next gaff.  Versions of House Bill 1 have been passed by the House many times only to die in the Democratic senate. You can’t take credit on this any more than dozens of others in both caucuses and both chambers who were part of the open government movement.

Point 2 – again, the anti-discrimination bill had passed the House before – meaning that the GOP led House had also passed the bill. Again, it died in the senate. Pete acknowledges this bill had bipartisan support both now and in the past but is again disingenuous regarding the premise of his column.

Then he proceeds to talk about how taxpayers were protected by various legislation.  The problem here is that taxpayers weren’t really protected this session. Take the industry Mr. Schwartzkopf uses in his piece – construction. He fails to mention that the Democrats blocked any consideration of suspending the prevailing wage requirement for state and school construction.

Contininuing on – the fight against eminent domain was bi-partisan, even non-partisan when it came to the General Assembly. This was a case where most of the legislators saw the errors in the policy and worked to enact it. But since we are in the theme of assigning credit – remember Pete that it was a Dem governor who vetoed this bill in the first place.

I could go on. DSTP was going to be replaced anyway as would have been most of the other policies enacted. And I’ll concede that the manufactured housing bill is one that would not have passed before. In the end, the point is that the column is seriously lacking in truth and substance, but hey, at least we know who wants to take credit.

We also know that this year’s budget is smaller for the first time in 20 years. I give credit for this to Gov. Markell. And remember, that the Governor’s for the past 20 years – 16 of those years were Minner and Carper.

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Correction to the original post thanks to the quick work by RSmitty. Of course the link to HB 264 doesn’t show the actual vote. Because HB 264 was substituted with another bill. Because of the last minute deal making by the leadership of the General Assembly and how not to actually fix the government’s problems, revenue options (aka tax increase proposals) were flying fast and furious. Instead of removing HB 264, the bill was substituted. The actual link to the actual tax increase bill is here. Of course, I would contend that an average citizen would have difficulty trying to look up how their legislator voted (I certainly did as you can see). So my comments on “Chiefs of Open Government” remains accurate. The original post was:

If you want to know who voted on House Joint Resolution 6, which provides the official revenue, refund and unencumbered funds estimates for Fiscal Year 2009, simply click here to go to the General Assembly webpage for the Resolution which passed the House at 8:51 PM on June 30th and passed the Senate at 3:07 AM on July 1st. However, if you want to see who voted for the increase in the Personal Income Tax, you can’t. Click here to go to the General Assembly webpage for the Tax Increase, and the Democratic Leadership hasn’t posted the results. The Tax Increase bill passed the House on June 29th and the Senate on June 30th before HJR 6, so it can’t be a clerical problem. Could it be that the “Chiefs of Open Government” are trying to hide something???

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Rep. Bill Oberle (R – Beechers Lot) placed an amendment on most (perhaps all, but I haven’t verified this) of the Democrats’ Tax Increase Bills. The synopsis of the amendment is:

This amendment is intended to be included with any tax or rate increase legislation for which a sunset provision is considered. The sunset proposal is triggered by two consecutive fiscal years showing actual net revenue increases of 6% or greater, which is the historic average General Fund Operating Budget growth. In calculating revenue growth, neither tax increase legislation nor abandoned property receipts are included.

I point this out because of the phrase “which is the historic average General Fund Operating Budget growth” which is in the middle of the synopsis. Now, ignore for the moment the obvious fact that Delaware’s operating budget has not grown 6% per year for the last 225 years, but it certainly has grown about 6% per year for the last 16 years. The trouble is that Delaware’s economy has not grown at 6% year over year in at least a decade. In fact, as the graph below shows (Source: Delaware Department of Labor), Delaware’s Non-Farm employment is at its lowest level in a decade — in other words there has been NO growth, and the trend is still heading down.

The Democrats have controlled all of State Government except for the House of Representatives for this entire period of no-growth. They now control the entire legislature. I’m glad to see a Sunset provision, but I don’t expect the provision to kick in any time soon. Let’s see where employment winds up in 12 months after the new tax increases.

Delaware Non-Farm Payroll

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Check out HB 274 sponsored by everyone’s favorite tax and spenders Representatives Gilligan, Schwarzkopf, & Longhurst and Senators DeLuca, Cook, & Blevins.

In one bill these 6 legislators are recommending that we change, adjust, and increase fees for everything from water bottlers to massage establishments to portable x-rays… 46 pages of fee increases introduced with only 1 legislative day remaining on the calendar. A 46 page bill introduced with less than 24 hours of legislative time left in the legislative calender affecting dozens of industries and hundreds of small businesses. I’m surprised that they just didn’t call this bill the “Raise every fee every where act of 2009”.

From the bill’s synopsis:

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.

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