House Minority Leader discourages plans to spend on after-school programs
House Minority Leader Danny Short delivers the GOP message this week, voicing his opposition to a bill that would use state funds to expand after-school programs.
The proposal was announced earlier this month by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, who asked for $10 million dollars to fund the Statewide After-school Initiative Learning (SAIL) program.
Short says he’s worried the bill will expand the state budget and potentially lead to spending beyond the $10 million. He suggests focusing instead on improving collection of school taxes - which could fund this and other programs
“Delaware’s public schools are collectively owed more than 32 million dollars," said Short. "If even a third of this money were collected, our schools would receive more than they would under the after-school initiative. And, unlike that proposal, local officials would not have their hands tied. They could address whatever they perceive was their districts’ most-pressing needs.”
Short adds that lawmakers in favor of SAIL have blocked his previous attempts to pass a bill that would allow local governments and schools get unpaid taxes by intercepting state income tax refunds.
Hi, I’m State House Minority Leader Danny Short.
Recently, House and Senate Democrats unveiled a proposal to give 10 million dollars in state grants to provide targeted after-school assistance to low-income students. Although well-intentioned, the plan would further expand the state budget and lead to additional spending for support services that would propel the total cost well above the 10 million dollar price tag.
Instead of creating new programs with additional expenses, General Assembly Republicans believe we should maximize existing resources. One area in which we can improve is the collection of school taxes.
Delaware’s public schools are collectively owed more than 32 million dollars. If even a third of this money were collected, our schools would receive more than they would under the after-school initiative. And, unlike that proposal, local officials would not have their hands tied. They could address whatever they perceive was their districts’ most-pressing needs.
School districts rely on county governments to collect taxes and their options are limited. A lien can be placed on a debtor’s property; or the county can pursue a sheriff’s sale at a cost of about $2,000 per case. For many years I have proposed allowing local governments and schools to intercept state income tax refunds of those in arrears. This mechanism is already part of state law and is used to collect other obligations.
Ironically, some of the same lawmakers supporting the new after-school spending proposal have repeatedly blocked consideration of the bipartisan tax intercept bill. Republicans believe taxes should be used sparingly and raised reluctantly. We also believe we have a duty to be fair to faithful taxpayers by holding accountable those not giving their fair share. Before we institute a new program to dole out state money to school districts, we should explore ways to let local schools get the money they are already due.