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Vote giving Del Tech bonding authority postponed amid state liability concerns

An attempt by some lawmakers to give Delaware Tech bonding authority hit another roadblock this week.

Democratic State Sen. Harris McDowell’s original bill drew opposition for proposing Del Tech be given bonding authority and the ability to implement a statewide property tax.

Senators decided Thursday against voting on new language introduced late Wednesday. Under McDowell’s alternate plan, the bonds for capital projects would be paid off through an annual appropriation in the bond bill, rather than a property tax. It would cap the amount at 10 percent of the total capital funding provided to the state’s public schools the previous year. It also requires the state to purchase Del Tech’s bonds.

Republican State Sen. Anthony Delcollo said he’s glad the Senate didn’t vote because he has some concerns. He said he doesn't understand why the bill requires the state to buy bonds from Del Tech, which is also a state agency.

“Normally you don’t see the state buying bonds from itself, as far as I’m aware, to get these sorts of infrastructure projects off the ground," he said.”

Delcollo said some of the language seems to treat Del Tech like it’s not also a state agency.

“I don’t understand how it’s a state agency that’s not part of the state," he said. "Which makes the concept of the requirement that the state of Delaware purchase any bonds issued by Del Tech even more confusing to me.”

Delcollo adds Delaware State University and the University of Delaware, which have bonding authority, are not state agencies. Joint Capital Improvement Committee Chairman Dave Sokola didn't return a request for comment.

Delcollo said he’s also concerned about the state being liable if the school defaults and said the bill may require a supermajority vote since Del Tech is part of the state and would be issuing bonds.

McDowell didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Senate Democrats said a supermajority is not needed to pass the legislation because it doesn't create a new tax or fee.

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