Delaware Public Media

Candidates weigh in on 2011 budget

Jul 1, 2010

As legislators in Dover wrapped up the 145th General Assembly, we spoke with some of their ballot-qualified competitors for the 2010 election, who hope to have a seat in the 146th session. Here is a sampling of their responses on key budget issues.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="127" caption="Beth Miller"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="127" caption="David Lawson"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="127" caption="Russ McCabe"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="127" caption="Debra Heffernan"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="127" caption="Chris Counihan"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="127" caption="Christopher Weeks"][/caption]

On spending unexpected revenues projected for the state

Beth Miller (R), 32nd Representative District candidate: “Because it is one-time money I think we should have used it not for short-term solutions but to leverage it into long-term benefits for the state of Delaware. I don’t think the $150 million, how it was used, accomplished that.”

On restoring the 2.5 percent pay cut to state employees

David Lawson (R), 15th Senatorial District candidate: “I disagree with the bad spending habits of the state of Delaware being put on the backs of the state employees. I think that was absolutely deplorable. I don’t think it should have been done.”

On replenishing the Strategic Fund to support business growth

Russ McCabe (D), 36th Representative District candidate: “One thing I was particularly pleased to see was that they made a commitment to put money in the Strategic Fund to help small businesses. The first priority should be the economy and jobs. It was a great decision.”

On restoring proposed transportation cuts

Debra Heffernan (D), 6th Representative District candidate : “The transportation cut for education had a disproportionate effect on districts downstate and therefore it had a higher effect on local communities, and I do believe that restoration made sense.”

On casino expansion

Chris Counihan (D), 5th Senatorial District candidate: “What I would like to see is some sort of licensing fee attached instead of just giving these casino licenses over. Do what other states have done, which is mandate that they provide a substantial fee for the privilege of owning one of these licenses.”

Christopher Weeks (R), 14th Representative District candidate: “I do not support casino expansion. I think it is poor public policy for the State of Delaware to rely so heavily on gambling as part of their revenue. This is an issue that I have been against since the beginning.”

Miller: “I don’t think simply increasing the number of casinos here in Delaware is going to increase the revenue to the state. I think it will imperil our existing casinos. I’m in Dover, my district is Dover Downs, and I don’t think that allowing two more casinos will increase revenue to the state.”

On the two-tier employee benefit system that was put off for now

Lawson: “We can’t continue to spend the way we are. $3.4 billion to run this little state is ridiculous. There has to be some hard calls made. And that may be one of them. I certainly would like to have everyone eat cake, but sometimes we have to eat bread.”

McCabe: “I think it’s fair to say that everyone’s aware of the tremendous increase of healthcare costs and pension system. We have to deal with that one way or another. It might be the approach that’s necessary. I’d have to learn more about the impact numbers. It’s something to give consideration to in the future.”

Heffernan: “I would be very interested in talking to the unions and other legislators, but it seems like it would be a positive financial step for the state.”

On potential savings in the budget

Counihan: “I think we just missed a lot of great cost-saving measures that the Governor proposed. The use of those who have gone through police academy training but were not full-fledged state troopers to patrol our public schools is a small but definite cost savings over time. You need to be innovative, creative.”

On what the legislature could do better

McCabe: “I think we need to do a better job of communicating as a government—of telling the public how money is being spent and what it’s being spent for. This is to create a broader understanding of programs and services we provide. Citizens don’t understand where their tax dollars are going.”

Weeks: “The issue not addressed in this year’s budget was that the State of Delaware continues to expand and grow to the point of being ineffective. The State of Delaware is going to be facing significant budget shortfalls that they are going to have to deal with next year.”