With any successful government, business or organization, fiscal responsibility is a cornerstone for a healthy future. As the Mayor of Milford, we balanced four budgets, created financial prudent policies and created a system to collect delinquent taxes, ensuring a stable future for one of Delaware’s fastest growing towns.
Balancing Four Budgets
As Mayor, I took the responsibility of managing our $48 million annual budget very seriously and, together with the City Council, we balanced four budgets without raising taxes. As public servants, we have a responsibility to offer superior services while striving to let people keep more of what they earn. As your State Representative, I will take this experience to Dover and work to redirect the
course of state government towards a more sustainable future.
Creating Prudent Financial Policies
For me, fiscal policy is not something that happens during the budget process but an overall philosophy that needs to be adopted by all parts of the organization. We practiced fiscal prudence through resourcefulness, strategically planning across all departments. With road construction, our public works division planned road repair with replacement of underground water, wastewater or storm water lines. This effort saved the City time and taxpayers’ money as the same roads were not ripped up multiple times to address different concerns. We also implanted new technology including smart meters and a public utility smart grid that allowed out technicians to proactively approach potential challenges to electric, sewer and water systems. These strategies saved valuable time for our employees and also decreased the cost of reactionary maintenance.
Collecting Delinquent Taxes
In May 2017, the City changed its Charter to update an outdated tax delinquency process that left $358,000 on the table in unpaid taxes. Since implementing the new process we collected over $200,000 in under one year. Efforts to reevaluate our fiscal policy and procedures will continue to be necessary to protect the investments made by residents and businesses.
State Government: A Big Spender
According to the Kaiser Foundation, Delaware is #2 in the nation in total state spending per person, and #1 in the lower 48 states. My question is this: do Delawareans feel as though they are getting top-of-the-line value for all of that spending? I would think that most people would say no, and many have said that to me as I’ve knocked on doors in the 36th district. Unfortunately, we have a culture in state government that says if there’s a problem, the only thing that will solve it is more money and more government. But there is no real evidence that more money and more government will help in most cases, and often, it is the exact opposite. I believe that when a problem arises, we should fix the problem, but we should do so at the least expense, and by adding the least amount of government possible.
“What Gets Measured Gets Managed”
The famous management guru Peter Drucker once said, “What gets measured, gets managed.” Unfortunately, no one in state government appears to have read Drucker’s book. Our government programs are not meaningfully measured, and the Joint Finance Committee does not get the metrics they need to justify the spending requests that are made to them for the state budget. It is shameful that we would make budgetary decisions without the relevant reporting on the effectiveness of programs. As your State Representative, I vow to push aggressively to force each state Program Unit to produce meaningful reporting on the metrics of programs. Senate Bill 263, a bi-partisan measure, took significant steps in the right direction, but it failed to pass the House before the end of session. I will work to see that a similar measure advances in 2019, should I be elected as your representative.
Budget Smoothing and the Future
The biggest effort in 2018 was the development of Ken Simpler’s Budget Smoothing reforms. It’s simple: tie the growth in government to personal income, inflation and the economy. When times are good, we save the extra money and when times are bad, we spend the savings so that important services continue to be provided. It’s amazing how controversial that idea became until you realize that there are those in the General Assembly who want to spend as much as they can, and create as many new government programs as possible. Despite the endorsement of Governor Carney, Treasurer Simpler, and more than half of the Legislature, the Big Spenders were able to block the measure. I agree with Governor Carney and Treasurer Simpler, and I am 100% committed to seeing the Budget Smoothing framework advance in the General Assembly in 2019. I’m convinced that future generations of Delawareans will thank us for these innovative reforms.
I am asking for your vote for State Representative because I want to take my experience balancing budgets for one of Delaware’s fastest growing towns and make a difference in Dover. We spend too much money without getting a good value for it. We fail to adequately measure the results of that spending. And we have an opportunity to make significant reforms. If I earn you vote, I will go to Dover and help drive those reforms forward.