My Platform for Delaware:
I am a true believer in a capitalist system being at the true heart of a free democracy. However, I also understand the need for a common sense social safety net that provides programs that protect the most vulnerable. Ultimately, it is much healthier for an economy that provides robust private sector job creation as this leads to greater individual wealth and increased government revenues. At the current moment, I am very concerned with the inflationary easy monetary policy of the FED and believe that the punch bowl for the party on Wall Street needs to be drained, as this promotes reckless casino style gambling. The FED needs to get a handle on inflation as higher prices mostly affect lower-middle class families. In addition, our seniors have been sacrificed for Wall Street as depressed interest rates hurt retirees much more than others. I am a supporter of free enterprise but also understand we need to fund and support collective institutions such as public schools, libraries, and police.
Tax and Spending:
As a Democrat, I believe in a progressive tax policy. I truly believe that if you made yourself wealthy in this great country than you should pay a little bit more back in taxes to the country that gave you that opportunity. As for spending, I support a common sense approach that focuses on what works and ensures that funds are available to support working programs. Government by design is not efficient; it will always fall back on consistency over efficiency to ensure inequality does not seep into government institutions. The overall goal for tax and spending is to do our best in reducing waste along with providing the needed services that we all rely on.
Healthcare is still a major issue for Delawareans even with the passage of Obamacare(ACA). The cost of out-of-pocket healthcare deductibles are skyrocketing and this is causing great pain for middle class families. We have a situation where middle class families on an ACA healthcare plan end up paying for a monthly premium and then still needing to pay a separate deductible for their child’s sick visit to the doctor. In functional terms this family has no insurance until the deductible is met, which could be over $10,000 in some cases. With all due respect to the ACA legislation, it is just not good enough. The richest country in the world should not have a system that promotes the sick to skip medical care due to costs. I want this system reformed so that Delaware families do not get stuck in this broken system.
Education is absolutely essential for Delaware to produce a workforce that is competitive in this dynamic world. K-12 education must be funded and we need to ensure our teachers are supported in the classroom with adequate resources. The data shows that higher pay for educators will lead to higher retention of great educators. In addition, I also support Delaware educator step increases beyond the current 10th year step cutoff. This topic is close to my heart as my wife is a music teacher in Middletown and I see how important this job is. We have to understand that a teacher needs thorough support from the parents, community, and government to ensure the students receive the best education possible.
School District Bus Driver Crisis:
In recent years and driven more so by the COVID-19 pandemic, central Delaware has had to face a bus transportation crisis related to hiring qualified drivers. I personally have been affected by this issue as my children attend Smyrna public schools and we have been asked to drive our children to school due to bus driver shortages. In some districts, children have to wait over an hour extra for their bus to arrive as many buses are making several trips for the same schools. This is a real issue that needs to be resolved and I will do whatever I can to provide the resources/funding to resolve this issue as our children’s education is paramount.
Higher Education and Student Loans:
We have a student loan crisis in this country. In addition, higher education institutions deserve some blame regarding this issue along with the federal government that disburses student loans and grants. I went to college with student loans helping me with expenses, so I am a believer in Hubert Humphrey’s student loan legislation passed in the 1960s. However, it does need reform. The federal government funds colleges and universities with very little regulation or oversight. As a result, higher education institutions have drastically abused the federal government’s well-intended program. When tuition and higher education expenses started to rise, higher education administrator salaries skyrocketed. This is basic macroeconomics at work- if the federal government will guarantee a loan that cannot even be discharged in bankruptcy, then what will stop that institution from asking for more and more every year? Student loan debt needs a creative solution and we need to try to keep the cost of education affordable for all Delawareans.
I grew up in a union household and I am proud of that. My wife is also a proud member of the DSEA which protects the collective bargaining rights of Delaware educators. For capitalism to flourish, workers need to be able to organize to protect their rights. A happy worker is a much more productive worker and a proud worker is what creates employee loyalty. I view management and their workforce as a team that is working to achieve the same goal and if both are able to work together then the business and employee will prosper. I am true supporter of unions and collective bargaining to make capitalism work for all Delawareans.
As a state employee, I understand the dedication we all have in ensuring that Delaware public services are functioning at all times. The COVID-19 pandemic has been very challenging and has changed the nature of the work environment. I believe the State needs to move into the 21st century and embrace a work environment that is more competitive with the private sector regarding obtaining highly skilled employees. Delaware is facing a vacancy crisis and it will likely be a challenge for many years as the State has a rigid salary scale. Most state employees have not seen a real raise in decades and their benefits have eroded. It is time to fix this problem with some basic changes to the current Merit System. The bureaucracy and red tape to approve a raise for a merit employee needs reform. I am a state employee that understands that the current pay structure for the State will not keep up with the private sector and changes are needed.
While working in the Controller General’s Office I was very aware of the capital investments Delaware has made regarding funding for infrastructure and other efficiency projects. Delaware must maintain their AAA credit rating to ensure we can continue to make these needed investments to ensure commerce flows throughout the State. I believe we can still do some great things for Delaware and we should think big. Central Delaware needs infrastructure and expanded commerce; possible investments in wind farms and a bridge/tunnel across the Delaware Bay of central Delaware would create much needed inter-state commerce along with Delaware jobs. Capital investment is very important for the State’s long-term health and promotes the attractiveness of the State for business.
Science has confirmed we are going to have significant challenges due to climate change. As Delawareans, we have a greater risk because of how flat and close to sea level much of the State is. Anyone that drives on Route 9 knows that it can be somewhat dangerous during storms and high tides because of the high water on the road. I take climate change very seriously and I think we can come up with solutions that dampen the impact on the climate and commerce. It is time for us to consider investing in a wind farm so we can utilize the powerful Delmarva winds to fuel our future. I understand that many think that wind farms are eyesores and no one wants them in their view. I say to these folks, go to Woodland Beach and look at the Salem nuclear power plant and think how catastrophic a possible nuclear event would be so close to Delaware. In addition, nothing is more of an eyesore than the cell phone towers I see all over the State, but we tolerate them because we understand their necessity. It is time for us to act and to take renewable/alternate energy technologies seriously if we want a future for our children.
Criminal Justice Reform:
We need to reform the criminal justice fee structure by not causing undue harm with high fees that jeopardize one’s ability to make a living. Also, we need to provide the former incarcerated with a second chance as they deserve the right to return to society and join the workforce when their time has been served.
As a millennial, I may have a different view than others regarding cannabis legalization. I cannot see any logic in why cannabis is illegal and listed as a Schedule I drug, the same as heroin. Polls have shown that the majority of Delawareans believe cannabis should be legalized. We need to use common sense and decide if cannabis is really dangerous or if it is time to legalize and tax it to fund needed programs. I would also like to earmark tax funds generated by the sale of legal cannabis for senior tax relief. It is time for elected officials to do what the people of Delaware want.
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