Delaware Public Media

Lawmakers find both common ground and battlegrounds in Gov. Carney's State of the State

Jan 17, 2019

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle found things to like in Gov. Carney’s State of the State address, but some issues raised by the governor created potential legislative battlegrounds.

House Minority Leader, State Rep. Danny Short (R-Seaford), says he appreciates Carney’s plans to create a Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund and expand the Downtown Development District program.

“I totally agree with him that our investment in infrastructure pays dividends down the road.  I like the fact that we’re maybe going to invest some money in infrastructure in our towns and cities as well," said Short. "We’ll see how that plays out.”

Short also lauded Carney's committment to follow through on his budget smoothing executive order, though he remains skeptical lawmakers will match the committment.

State Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-Newark/Bear), the Senate Majority Whip,  joined Short in backing Carney’s weighted education funding proposal that would send $60 million help disadvantaged students statewide.

“The governor did a very good job of not explaining it like it’s going to be the end all, be all in the immediate moment," said Townsend. "It’s the start of what we hope to be a permanent shift in how we support Delaware children, Delaware families, Delaware educators.”

But Carney’s decision to thank State Sen. President Pro Temp David Mc Bride for agreeing to bring an assault weapons ban up for a full debate did not sit well with Republicans lawmakers like Short

“I wish he hadn’t gone there because I think it divides us dramatically.  It creates an issue of divide and contention and brings people to the Hall that are going to be in opposite positions." said Short. "We’ve tried to chill ourselves on other issues that would do that."

When is comes to guns, Short says he’d rather focus on school safety and additional funding there.

Townsend is glad Carney made a point to encourage an assault weapon ban debate.

"I thought we should have had a full debate in 2018. I thought it was stifled inappropriately.  It was very unfair to the people of Delaware," said Townsend.

Carney also backed Townsend’s proposal to raise the legal age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21. Short says it’s the first he’s heard of it, adding he’ll reserve judgment on it for now.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf said he supports many of the ideas Carney outlined in his speech, especially raising the age to buy cigarettes.  “The argument is going to be they can join the military and they can do all those things, but we’re tying to it  to the same age as drinking alcohol," he said. "Cigarettes are nasty, deadly. It’s addictive and you die from them.”