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Transportation spending negotiations stalled by GOP

Delaware Public Media

Republican leaders in both caucuses called off a the meeting with Democrats over how to fund Delaware’s aging infrastructure system Thursday.

The group has been meeting twice weekly for months to forge a deal that directs $50 million in state funds and another $50 million in borrowed money over five years toward First State roads.

The GOP says they’re going to spend the next few days to review options within their own party.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) says he thought the group was close to a deal, but that he’s at the mercy of the GOP.

“Everybody talks about us being in the majority and everything, but in this particular case, they’re driving the train on this one," said Schwartzkopf. "If nothing gets done, it’s because they don’t come to the table. If we get it done, it’s because they come to the table.”

When asked about the cancelation, House Minority Leader Daniel Short (R-Seaford) remained steadfast in not divulging details of the talks.

“Pretty close to a deal depends on what the deal is and what the details are. It depends on who you talk to and how close that really is. Someone’s close is a lot further away than others, so we’ll see,” Short said.

Schwartzkopf says should they find a solution by Tuesday, he expects legislation to be introduced next week.

Democrats punted on Gov. Jack Markell's (D) proposed gas tax package in 2014 in the face of an election year when they held a super majority in both chambers. Republicans cut that advantage in the Senate after now Sen. Bryant Richardson (R-Laurel) upset longtime incumbent Robert Venables, forcing them now to compromise with the GOP.

Options on the table in the past have included increasing Delaware’s wholesale gas tax, raising DMV fees and cutting state spending.

DelDOT officials say the state has a $780 million backlog of projects, $180 million of which they say are emergency repairs.

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