Something interesting happened yesterday in the General Assembly. A day after the cut sheet from the Joint Finance Committee began circulating we get notified that JFC will no longer be releasing their markups and cuts to the public or media. I’m a cynical guy, so naturally my response was “What are they hiding?” but really, it’s just stupidity and arrogance in action.
There is no legitimate reason why we (public & media) should not see what the Joint Finance Committee (made up 12 of our state legislators, by the way) is going to cut from the budget. No reason. Unless JFC does not want the peasantry voicing their displeasure as they eliminate and sharply reduce funding to services that benefit us all and interfering with their work. It is easier to do your job behind a closed door where no one can interrupt you.
Or maybe it’s out of concern that our feeble minds cannot comprehend the complexity of budget cuts, so our leaders saw fit to spare us the mental anguish of budgetary comprehension.
Before we had even a sliver of a chance to figure it out, we got word that Rep. Schwartzkopf and Sen. McBride wanted JFC to cancel the rest of their meetings this week so legislators had more time to mete out some revenue ideas.
Whatever the reason(s) for JFC canceling their meetings right now, legislators needing more time to consider revenue options isn’t one of them. Why? Because they’ve had at least 10 years to consider new sustainable revenue options. The $400 million budgetary shortfall didn’t appear last month, Markell even inherited an $800 million shortfall when he took office. The structural failure of Delaware’s budget has been a known issue for a LONG time. Such a long time that if legislators are NOW just coming around to the fact new sustainable revenue streams for the State are needed and they actually have to find them, the General Assembly has been quite derelict in their duty to serve their electorate.
Fabricated outrage about JFC “making cuts that hurt people” is appalling. Of course government budget cuts hurt people. Government is a SERVICE INDUSTRY and when the primary services such an industry provide are Medicaid and education, YOU’RE GOING TO HURT PEOPLE by cutting funds. I cannot comprehend why this would come as a surprise to anyone in the Assembly.
If you don’t already know that cutting $37 million out of public education is going to “hurt people” then you have no business being a legislator. None.
So what’s next? Well who knows. Speaker Pete & Company have indicated they need to look at new revenue options. Will we get to see them too? Or will we find out when bills hit the floor after secret deals have been made, just like the estate tax repeal? I do know one thing: If we actually want to SEE what the legislators have planned we’re going to have to demand transparency from them because as we’ve seen many times over, they’re not going to provide it on their own.
As you continue to voice your concerns to your legislators, please remind them that their voters should also be “in on the deals” they make to figure out the budget mess. We have a right to know.
The fire sale on LegHall Bad Optics continues.
Maybe you should include who these people are?
No doubt the “usual suspects” as there seems to be plenty of them.
I’m guessing you’re referring to the Joint Finance Committee? If not let me know and I’ll name names. In any case, JFC:
Chair: Melanie George-Smith
Co-Chair: Harris McDowell
Brian J. Bushweller
Bruce C. Ennis
Dave G. Lawson
William J. Carson
Harvey R. Kenton
The only potential for another revenue stream is to raise the taxes of the rich, far easier to torment and afflict the rest of us as we don’t have lawyers and politicians on a retainer. As usual it’s hard to tell the Republicans from the Democrats in Delaware. And yes, it sucks.
The fire sale on LegHall Bad Optics continues.
But I am going to offer another interpretation of what happened with the cut sheets and in asking the JFC to stand down. In one of the news articles I read, Harris McDowell was specifically irritated by making the cuts without knowing what the revenue package would be. It is what prompted me to ask if anyone knew if there was some legislative or strategic reason for not taking up a revenue package first — before you have the JFC do its final markup. Because from where I sit, the Dems are doing the smaller government work the GOP certainly wants and if there are these massive cuts, why cooperate on new revenue? Plus the entire state is specifically mad at Democrats.
Anyway, I suspect they shut it all down because of the backlash and at some point there just isn’t a ton of sense in that kind of cutting if there is a revenue package in the works. Guess only. Based on the fact that this has not been the most strategically run or negotiated process.