How Delaware legislators quietly created ability to give millions to developer

The News Journal | by Karl Baker Lawmakers in Dover last week quietly gave the state authority to hand over millions in taxpayer dollars to developers. Buried 30-pages deep in the epilogue of the state’s bonding legislation, the new legal authority stated that Delaware can help to fund 3% of the construction of facilities that cost at least $75 million and would eventually employ 500 workers or more. No developer or property was identified in the bill. But numerous sources confirmed that lawmakers approved the language in order to give […]

Signed, sealed and delivered

Delaware State News | by Matt Bittle DOVER — The first leg of the 150th General Assembly is in the books. Going into session late Sunday afternoon, lawmakers wrapped up business early Monday, marking an uneventful end to the 2019 legislative session. After failing to finish until around 5 a.m. or later four years in a row the legislature concluded business just after 1 a.m. this time. Gov. John Carney signed the capital bond and grant-in-aid bills Monday at 1:40 a.m., allowing everyone to head home. Because this is just […]

Commentary: Plastics bill would cause undue harm in Delaware

Delaware State News | Opinion | by Alan Muller Probably no member of the Delaware legislature is a more dedicated stooge of industrial polluters than Rep. Debra Heffernan. So, by the perverse logic of the General Assembly, it makes sense that House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf would have made her chairwoman of the House Natural Resources Committee, the better to attack natural resources from the inside. Herffernan represents District 6, which has a lot of pollution problems and contaminated sites. She is also co-chair of the Capital Improvement (Bond Bill) Committee, […]

Speak Out: Betraying taxpayers

Delaware State News | Letters to the Editor Readers reacted to a recent commentary by Democratic Rep. John Kowalko headlined “Language in Delaware budget bill betrays taxpayers” where he states “In a blatant disregard for fiscal responsibility and Delaware law, for almost a decade, the Joint Finance Committee has inserted language into the annual budget bill to remove oversight and protections from the use of taxpayer money to fund charter schools.” I heard a presentation of the budget a week ago and this question was never addressed formally. It’s blindly […]

Delaware gives $1.6 million to chemical firm FMC, lets Tower Hill issue $6.9 million bond

The News Journal | by Karl Baker Delaware on Monday approved a $1.6 million taxpayer grant for FMC, an $11 billion agricultural chemical company that plans to build a greenhouse at its Newark-based research headquarters and hire 13 new employees. While state officials argue that such incentives encourage investment in Delaware, FMC officials declined to say whether they would build the greenhouse even without the taxpayer cash. Also at Monday’s meeting of the Delaware Council on Development Finance, the state approved a $50,000 grant to a Newark chemical startup that […]

Kowalko: Language in Delaware budget bill betrays taxpayers

Delaware State News | Commentary | by Rep. John Kowalko In a blatant disregard for fiscal responsibility and Delaware law, for almost a decade, the Joint Finance Committee has inserted language into the annual budget bill to remove oversight and protections from the use of taxpayer money to fund charter schools. One charter school that is under investigation for financial mismanagement has received millions in unaccountable funding, including over $750,000 in the past year. I have consistently opposed this use of taxpayer money with no accountability or understanding for how […]

More possible misuse of funds at Odyssey Charter School

Delaware Public Media | by Sarah Mueller More examples of possible misuse of state funding at Odyssey Charter School are coming to light. The Delaware Department of Education placed Odyssey on formal review last month after complaints it misused state funding and conflicts of interest involving the American Hellenic Educational Association. But now Odyssey School Board member Elias Rigas says former board president Dimitri Dandalos authorized $177,000 in additional construction work on AHEPA’s Ithaka Early Learning Center without the board’s knowledge. It previously acknowledged spending $91,500 on the center. It […]

House passes $4.45B budget but bond bill remains unfinished

Delaware State News | by Matt Bittle DOVER — The House of Representatives approved the $4.45 billion operating budget Thursday, along with a $62 million supplement. By a 41-0 vote, the chamber sent the measure to the Senate. Senators could consider the bill Tuesday, one of the four regularly scheduled legislative days remaining. The spending plan, Rep. Quinn Johnson told his colleagues in the House, includes substantial investment in education and pay raises for state employees. The Middletown Democrat also touted the budget’s fiscal discipline, noting lawmakers set aside tens […]

Organized labor rallies as $15 minimum wage legislation stalls

Delaware Public Media | by Sophia Schmidt Unionized commercial cleaners, labor organizers and lawmakers gathered in Wilmington Friday in support of a $15 dollar minimum wage. The state’s current minimum wage of $8.75 an hour rises to $9.25 in October. A bill that would gradually raise Delaware’s minimum wage to $15 is being routed through a second state senate committee — and senate leadership says the earliest it will get a vote is next January. “We’re still feeling hopeful,” said Daisy Cruz, Mid-Atlantic district director for 32BJ of the Service […]

Lawmakers won’t consider adding more income tax brackets again this year

Delaware Public Media | by Sarah Mueller Legislation adding higher tax rates for wealthier Delawareans is unlikely to get a floor vote again this year. Delaware has a graduated income tax rate. It rises incrementally in brackets – until it reaches $60,000 when the rate tops out at 6.6 percent. That means people making $60,000 and $1 million pay that same top rate. Under legislation sponsored by State Rep. John Kowalko (D-Newark), state would add a 7.1 percent bracket for people making more than $125,000 and a 7.85 tax for […]