Friday, April 6, 2012

Is Delaware’s Lampstand About to Be Extinguished?

No matter which Main Street you walk or drive down in any town in Delaware, reminders of this fragile, global economy show lifelessness and despair.  Empty storefronts have become the new symbol of the Obama and Markell economy.  Broken American dreams are all that remain.

Thirty years ago, Delaware was the economic engine of this nation. Corporate powerhouses such as  DuPont, Wilmington Trust, MBNA were once symbols of Delaware’s former prominence on the global economic stage. Today, DuPont is a shell of what it once was in Delaware due to a shift in global demand of chemicals to developing nations.  Wilmington Trust and MBNA have been bought by other banks and are no longer.  Delaware was once the proud home to two automotive plants run by General Motors and Chrysler.  Today, they are gone.  Delaware’s economic stature is dimming.

What has changed?  Thirty years ago, Ronald Reagan was in the White House and Governor Pete du Pont was in the Governor’s mansion.  Today, it is President Obama in Washington and Jack Markell in Dover as Delaware’s Governor.  In a generation, Delaware has lost its footing and unless things change, it does not look like we will gain it back.  

Today, Delaware’s economic performance and outlook are bleak with no signs of hope on the horizon.  While Delaware is in the top ten states to make a living, the state’s budget and tax policy hinder economic growth.  As of late, due to Democratic control of both chambers of the Delaware General Assembly and the Governor’s mansions, Delaware has been in a continual tax and spend marathon. 

Since 2009, Delaware has ranked 49th out of 50 in legislative tax changes1 with over $9.38 out of every $1000 being levied a new tax.  Since then the top marginal personal income tax rate increased to 8.2 percent and the top marginal corporate tax rate climbed to 9.98 percent.  These legislated tax increases are the result to address an 11.4 budget gap in the FY2011 budget gap.

For us conservatives, we know Delaware has a spending problem.  If you don’t think so, then why are taxes soaring to make up for the spending spree?  Perhaps if Delaware wasn’t spending $6,800 per person2 it is annual budget, then these tax increases would not be necessary.  Perhaps if that expenditure wasn’t two and half times that of Nevada (which is 44 times the size of Delaware), then Delaware families and businesses would not be the state’s ATM.

Thirty years ago when conservative principles governed Delaware, its economy functioned on all cylinders.  With each passing election since, liberals replaced conservatives.  Spending boomed, taxes soared, companies left for more business-friendly states.  The result of what we are faced with now, is a state riddled in big government, bureaucracy, and an ideology that government is the solution.

2012 brings enormous opportunity and responsibility for the Delaware voter.  This very well could be the last meaningful election to make a difference.  Do we allow Delaware to be driven off the cliff pedal to the metal, or do we elect constitutional, fiscal conservatives to Legislative Hall who are going to take a machete rather than a scalpel to the state budget?  If we remember one thing from the 2010 election, remember the wise words of State Senator Colin Bonini (R-Dover) who echoed time and again “It’s OUR money.” 

Perhaps with proper representation and leadership in Dover, Delaware would not have a spending problem that forces individuals and businesses to carry the weight forced upon us by those elected to serve.  Delaware Democrats has been on spending binge, but when you have a trifecta of government control (Governor, State House and State Senate) with no opportunity to have proper checks and balances or adults in the room, the taxpayer credit card will be maxed out. 

Perhaps if our elected leaders were good stewards of our finite resources and If we treated elections with the same care as we did for our loved ones and not like a popularity contest, Delaware’s lamsptand would shine a bit brighter.

1 Source: America Legislative Exchange Council.  Rich States, Poor States 4th Edition.
2 Source: The Six States Where Taxes are Soaring via 24/7 Wall Street

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