The News Journal | Opinion | by Rep. John Kowako
Delaware taxpayers are once again being asked to close their collective minds and open their collective wallets.
Another grotesque giveaway to another wealthy corporation has been proposed. Instigated, orchestrated and supported by the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, Delaware’s State Department, Gov. John Carney’s administration and a vast number of corporate shills that occupy the General Assembly, we are once again being cajoled to give millions of dollars to a profitable company under the guise of economic development.
In the past 9 years, these corporate welfare policies have cost the Delaware taxpayers well over $250 million, most of which was funneled into the coffers of the richest corporations in the world. There has been little to no economic development or sustainable job growth resulting from this corporate extortion racket.
This number does not include the more than $80 million forfeited to wealthy corporations with the recent passage of the Delaware Competes Acts and Delaware Innovates Acts.
The similarities in some of these arrangements often show an utter disregard for economic prudence and justice. The recent Sallie Mae request for more than $2 million in taxpayer funds connotes an attitude of entitlement and greed, which is reinforced when we consider the recent report of over $70 million in second quarter earnings declared by Sallie Mae.
This causes me to reflect on the $10 million requested and granted to J.P. Morgan Inc. after they declared a record $24 billion in profits. These are not isolated incidents but rather common occurrences resulting from Delaware’s policies of unbounded enthusiasm to finance corporate welfare.
When you reflect on the actual economic circumstances challenging Delaware’s residents and taxpayers, such as over $30 million in cuts to public education, elimination of the $2.5 million Pharmaceutical Assistance Program which served the neediest elderly and disabled citizens of Delaware — forcing them to choose between life-saving medications or life-giving food — no one should cast a blind eye on such economic cruelty.
And what should be the public’s responsibility to stop this madness? The public must express a collective outrage and convey it to every elected official in the state of Delaware.
If their voices are loud and persistent but are still ignored, then it is the humane obligation of the public to replace every one of those legislators and elected officials (regardless of party) with new people who are responsible to the needs of the people and not to some corporatist culture or ideology.
I’m outraged and have been every step of the way for my entire six terms in office. I’ve expressed it publicly, criticized it in the media and on my Facebook site and begged and cajoled my colleagues and the three Governors I’ve served under to cease and desist.
It’s time for the public to step up and be outraged. When you became aware (unless you’re living in a rabbit hole) that $70 million in taxpayer money was spent on roads and egress to the AstraZeneca site to enhance its sellable price tag tenfold, where was the outrage?
It’s been reported on in the major media sites and I’ve written extensively about this state’s corporate welfare policies — including AstraZeneca, JPMorgan, DuPont and Chemours — apparently to a deaf, dumb and blind constituency.
Bring the outrage, please. Bring it.
Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, represents the 25th district in the Delaware House of Representatives.