The State of Delaware is facing serious budget issues. It is encumbent on all of us to make sure our legislators make responsible decisions that will have a lasting, positive impact on the financial future of our State.
Drastic cuts to education have been proposed to balance the budget. If these cuts go through as is, we are looking at $39 million in cuts to education – $2 million from the Governor’s proposal, $22 million in education sustainment funding, and $15 million in district operations. (View the full FY18 budget.)
In the midst of that bad news, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) has made an additional $14.7 million in cuts that include, but are not limited to, the elimination of funding for gifted and talented programs, Odyssey of the Mind, professional development for Student Standards & Assessment, and many College Access subgrants. (View Full List of Budget Cuts Proposed by JFC)
JFC still needs to make an additional $105 million in cuts to balance the budget, likely meaning that more cuts to education could be on the way.
There is a better option, though, and that is increasing the revenue instead of implementing cuts.
How is 'revenue' the solution?
There are two bills, introduced last week, that represent this responsible "revenues, not cuts" approach.
House Bill 240 adjusts income tax rates by 0.15% to 0.4% and creates a new tax bracket of 6.95% at income over $150,000.
Under Delaware's current systems, there is no income tax bracket above $60,000, meaning a person making $60,001/yr pays the same income tax rate as someone making $500,000/yr.
HB 240 would also eliminate itemized deductions, increase the standard deduction for both single filers and those filing jointly.
HB 240 is projected to generate $68 million in additional revenue for fiscal year 2018 and an additional $211 million for FY19.
House Bill 242 focuses on increasing the taxation and licensing fees for tobacco and vapor products.
HB 242 would add vapor products as a type of tobacco product and require those who sell vapor product to be licensed just the same as those who sell traditional tobacco product. In addition to the licensing requirement, HB 242 will increase the tax on cigarettes, vapor products, and chewing tobacco.
How Can You Help?
DSEA, along with the other member unions of State Workers United (SWU), is asking members to contact their legislators to tell them that increasing state revenue is the only responsible option for addressing this budget crisis. Delaware cannot afford to continue cutting services to its citizens and simply expect that to prime the engine of growth and sustainability.
There is power in numbers and, with DSEA members joining with the other SWU union members, our collective voice cannot be ignored.