Carney said he would place an emphasis on the economy, education, voting, fighting opioid addiction and the next state budget.
Gov. John Carney came to the Senate chamber in Legislative Hall Jan. 17 to deliver his second State of the State address.
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In his remarks, Carney would place an emphasis on the economy, education, voting, fighting opioid addiction and the next state budget.
In keeping with tradition, Carney spoke before a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives in a jam-packed Senate chamber a crowd that included members of his cabinet, the state judiciary, senior educators and ordinary Delaware residents.
Carney started with a little humor, acknowledging his family’s presence, including his wife, Tracey, and mother, Ann. He also gave a friendly dig to his nephew, Brian O’Neill, who just completed his rookie season as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
Early on, Carney also listed by name the 15 new members of the Senate and House, elected in November.
“Never before has our General Assembly better reflected the people of our state,” he said. “We will all benefit from the new perspectives and new ideas here in our legislature.”
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The governor also took note of the current political squabbling in the nation’s capital.
“Delawareans are tired of the fighting in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “They’re tired of gridlock and negativity and of politics as usual. They want us – they’re asking us – to be different here in Delaware.”
VIDEO: The economy
Carney listed the results of efforts to improve the First State’s economy over the past two years of his administration, including job creation and resulting low unemployment, investments in the Port of Wilmington, tax credits, and small business incentives.
More programs are coming, including continued downtown revitalization efforts, funding to renovate homes in distressed neighborhoods and expanded broadband in southern Delaware.
New ideas include a transportation infrastructure investment fund to provide $10 million to quickly move on economic development projects, which, he predicted, will bring in more jobs and more revenue that will allow expansion of other programs.
Before the speech, Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover said he wanted to hear some specifics on Carney’s budget and education plans.
“I want to find out what his priorities are,” Paradee said. “I’d be interested to hear more about his proposed investment in education. Certainly, a little more detail and elaboration in regard to that would be nice,” he said.
Earlier in the week, Carney had proposed a $60 million program to assist children from low-income families and those for whom English is a second language.
Earlier efforts have not been as successful as they should have been, he said. This time districts will be required to come up with plans on how to spend the money and students’ progress will be tracked.
“The funding will pay for the type of help these students need: more reading and math supports, counselors, smaller class sizes and afterschool programs,” Carney said.
He also said there would be more help for students in Wilmington as well as a plan to help teachers pay off their student loans.
Ensuring Delaware’s children get a good education will go a long way toward curbing crime and prison recidivism, he said.
Sen. David Lawson, R-Marydel, said before the speech he wanted to hear more about this new program.
“I’d like for him to explain the total of $60 million going to education when the money we’re putting in now is not getting to the kids,” he said.
Lawson also said he didn’t want to hear any proposals from Carney about banning firearms and the erosion of the country and the state’s constitutional right to carry a weapon.
“But I think that probably will go the other way,” he predicted.
Carney’s remarks on gun control proved Lawson correct: the governor called for legislation to ban guns created by 3D printers and so-called ghost guns, weapons that can be assembled from unregistered parts.
Lawson said afterward he did not see the need for that type of ban as in his opinion these weapons have not become an issue in Delaware.
Carney said he wanted to see action on proposals to allow same-day voter registration and early voting.
“There is nothing more fundamental to the quality of life as Americans than having access to the voting booth,” he said. “Right now, Delaware lags behind in making it easy and convenient for people to exercise their right to vote.
“We’re going to change that.”
VIDEO: Fighting addiction
In discussing health care, the governor acknowledged the efforts of Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who was seated behind him. Through the Behavioral Health Consortium, the state has helped make naloxone available to law enforcement and first responders. The drug, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, has been administered more than 3,000 times in the First State, he said.
Sen. Anthony Delcollo, R-Wilmington, was interested to learn about Carney’s plans for the state budget, which the governor will introduce in detail the week of Jan. 20. Delcollo wants to see movement on efforts to make the budget process smoother and less complicated.
“I’m hopeful he’ll talk about the budget fund smoothing efforts to stabilize our fiscal situation because there was a bipartisan proposal last year, and we worked very hard to advance that,” he said.
VIDEO: The budget
Carney announced he will include pay raises for state employees in his annual budget, due to be released the week of Jan. 21, and will continue to work on relieving conditions in Delaware’s prisons that led to a riot in February 2017 and the death of a correction officer, Lt. Steven Floyd.
Recalling the budget of 2017, where cuts in spending were made to erase a $400 million deficit, Carney said he is committed to an executive order he signed to create a stabilization fund and that would limit state spending.
Delaware legislators have been criticized for using one-time revenue money to attack a problem, not following through with additional funding to complete the project.
“We will propose to use one-time money for one-time expenses, like infrastructure, nutrient management, water and wastewater treatment, and facilities for higher education,” he said.
Such sound practices will ensure money is available during the next economic downturn, something everyone knows will happen, he said.