By: Dave Graham
The creation of the Delaware Expenditure Review Committee by Governor Markell’s Executive Order 52 is a prime example of insider whitewash.
There is no question that a serious bottom-up review of state budget outflow is needed to address Delaware’s sinking fortunes in the face of shrinking revenues.
Decreased revenues can be partially blamed on the failure of the Republican legislative leadership to support the proposed ten cent increase in fuel tax, which would have been used by DelDot for major job creation and economically-stimulated highway transportation projects.
These same Republican legislative leaders, in collusion with the Democratic legislative leaders, then secretly granted annual salary raises in excess of $10,000 each for favored legislative staffers, while state employees were told that there is no money for cost of living increases, in the face of raised payroll deductions for health insurance and higher insurance co-pays.
There are some serious issues with the potential effectiveness of the assembled group, a sub-committee of DEFAC.
First issue: Of the twelve members, there is only one woman, Ann Visalli, formerly the Assistant Treasurer when Governor Jack Markell served as Treasurer from 1999 to 2009, who was subsequently appointed as Director of OMB by Governor Markell in 2009.
Second issue: Of the remaining eleven male members, several are lawyers, and some are former elected officials or members of DEFAC. The others come from Christiana Care, Capital One, Community Foundation, DESEA, Community Bank, and the University of Delaware.
Third issue: Of the twelve committee members, there are no small business owners, no health insurance executives, no members of the Delaware Society of C.P.A.’s, and no Delaware State Merit Employees.
Fourth issue: This subcommittee is heavily weighted with insiders. There is no true partnering with the private sector.
Fifth issue: While the stated goal is to reduce overall expenditures, the disclosed focus is Medicaid, which is a federally-mandated program; and pension costs, the result of promises made to Delaware State employees for services rendered.
Sixth issue: While there are several other stated cost-cutting goals, don’t be surprised if further cuts to state employee benefits show up as the marquee headliners in the final recommendations due by January 29th.
Republican Senate Minority Leader, Gary Simpson, is to be lauded for forcing the creation of this committee that should have been formed way back in 2009 when Governor Jack Markell first took office, at the depth of the “Great Recession”.
However, without the injection of fresh ideas and analysis from truly independent outsiders who would bring the experience, know-how, and analytical skills required to perform a no-holds-barred complete review, it is doubtful that the monstrous task of effectively and thoroughly bringing the State of Delaware expenditures under control can be completed in less than four months.
[ Disclosure: Dave Graham, of Smyrna, was the 2014 Independent Party of Delaware Candidate for Attorney General, the 2012 Independent Party-endorsed Republican Write-in Candidate for Governor, the 2010 Republican Write-in Candidate for Attorney General, a 2008 filed Republican Candidate for Governor, and a Candidate in the 2004 Republican Primary for Governor. A 1979 graduate of Goldey Beacom College and a Delaware-licensed C.P.A., in his youth, Mr. Graham served as a sergeant with U.S. Army First Armored Division in Germany. ]