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Gov. Carney's State of the State: Delaware is resilient, determined, strong

via State of Delaware Livestream

Gov. John Carney used his State of the State to look back at hurdles the state overcame during the COVID-19 pandemic, while promising to deliver on initiatives he proposed prior to COVID.

Calling the state resilient, strong, and getting stronger, Carney commended the state’s response to COVID-19.

He notied that, unlike some other states, Delaware was well-positioned weather the economic storm created by the pandemic because of its committment to fical responsibility in recent years.

"We built up our reserves, while making investments where needed the most," said Carney. "When the COVID-19 crisis hit, we balanced our budget without cutting critical services. Without raising taxes on Delaware families or businesses. Without borrowing money to pay our bills. And without laying off state employees or cutting their pay – as so many other states were forced to do."

He also lauded residents, first responders, teachers and educators, and corrections staff for their efforts in fighting against the pandemic.

Carney also thanked state employees for their work during the pandemic. 

“Over the course of my 30 years in public service, and even during the course of this administration, I have seen government tackle countless, serious and complicated challenges. Nothing – absolutely nothing – compares to the last ten months," said Carney. "There are state employees in every corner of this government who have been asked to solve unimaginable problems, work punishing hours, and put themselves in harm’s way, to help us get through this pandemic.”

The just over 20 minute speech also featured a commitment to addressing issues of racial justice, including support for getting body cameras for all police officers statewide.

“This year laid bare the pain that our brothers and sisters of color suffer across our state and nation. It took away any false sense of comfort we may have allowed ourselves to feel that everyone has equal access to the American Dream,” said Carney. “We have much work to do as a state and as a nation. First to heal. But to go beyond healing. To make fundamental changes to a system that for too long has denied the promise of equality and justice for all. This requires a comprehensive approach. To the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color. But also to economic empowerment, education, and issues of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”

Carney also pledged to continue work to create economic opportunity communities of color.

“The Port of Wilmington is one of a handful of ports in the country with a predominantly African American workforce. Now we’re building a new port at Edgemoor. This will create thousands of additional good-paying jobs. African American-owned businesses make up 11 percent of businesses in our state. They make up 16 percent of the businesses that got COVID Relief Grants from the state. We’re also using CARES Act money to put 3,000 out-of-work Delawareans through a rapid retraining program to get them back on their feet. Over half of enrollees are people of color.”

Carney also renewed his proposal to invest $50 million to create a new Clean Water Trust Fund and his commitment to a Renewable Portfolio Standard setting a goal that 40 percent of the state’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2035.

Carney is also seeking to make mail-in voting permanent.

“With the General Assembly’s help, we allowed mail-in voting for the first time. That meant hundreds of thousands of Delawareans could stay safe from the pandemic, while exercising their right to vote. And I look forward to signing legislation to make mail-in voting a permanent feature of our elections – from school board and town hall elections to the election for the President of the United States.”

Carney hopes making government and school board meetings virtually available for every resident becomes the norm in the state.

“Governments at all levels made it possible for public meetings, hearings and proceedings to be conducted virtually during the pandemic. In many cases it’s made conducting the public’s business more accessible, more transparent, and more efficient. We should all want more people to participate in our democracy – not fewer. So we should work together to make these practices permanent even after the pandemic.”

Carney also wants to double funding for the state’s Opportunity Funding Program that offers support for low income students and English learners and the Early Childhood Assistance Program.

Carney also committed to fully funding K-3 basic special education over the next few years.

"My highest priority as Governor remains the same. We need to ensure our most vulnerable students get the education they need and deserve. Students who are living in poverty. Students who are still learning English," said Carney.

Carney acknowleged that there's a long road ahead for the state in battling the pandemic, but believes "we have turned the corner.

"This year has taken a toll on each of us. And our state has had to withstand enormous pressure and strain. But we as a state have survived. We’ve proven that if we each do our part, together, we can get through this,"  said Carney as he close the speech. "Hope is here. We’re getting the vaccine to as many Delawareans, as fast as we can. And we have a new President who we all know so well, and we know we can trust. We will get through this. And with your help, in this next year, we will thrive."

Carney plans to offer his plan for the state's 2022 budget Thursday morning.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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