Gov. Jack Markell signed an executive order creating a bipartisan Delaware Expenditure Review Committee.
The committee comes after the release of a Business Roundtable report that took note of a budget gap that could grow to more than half a billion dollars if left unchecked.
The report led to a defense of current practices by the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly, as well as calls for spending cuts from the Republican minority in the legislative body.
Led by Fred Sears of the Delaware Community Foundation, the panel will review state government for opportunities to create efficiencies and provide services in a more cost-effective manner, according to a release.
The committee, comprised of private sector appointees from the governor and all four caucuses of the General Assembly, brings together representatives of the business community, unions, government and the non-profit sector.
“Delaware’s revenue sources don’t grow with our economy, so even as our state’s economy has improved, we face tremendous budget challenges,” said Markell. “We must do everything we can to deliver the most value to Delawareans at a reasonable cost and the committee I’m creating today builds on six years of work to make government more efficient in providing high-quality services to our citizens. The results so far have produced the least amount of budget growth during any administration – Republican or Democrat – in modern history. We must remain open to evaluating new ideas and look forward to partnering with the private sector to continue this effort.”
The budget gap has widened despite a budget that when adjusted for inflation and population growth has shrunk by an average of 0.58 percent per year during the Markell Administration, representing significantly less growth in spending than any prior administration in the last 30 years. The administration and General Assembly have been taken to task by Republicans for budget growth of about 3 percent per year.
A release from Markell’s office noted that state also saw a higher demand for government services since the steep recession of 2009.
At the same time, the roundtable report indicated areas such as education, corrections and Medicaid should be examined for possible budget savings.
“This is a unique opportunity to bring together private and public sector leaders to take a look at how the State may be able to find savings,” said Sears, who chairs the committee. “This is not going to be easy, but I think the governor and legislative leaders have appointed a good team that is prepared to go to work.”
Sears has often been called on to chair committees and lead transition teams for office holders during a lengthy career in local politics and as a bank executive and head of a foundation. He will retire as CEO of the Community Foundation at the end of the year.
“This Committee is a worthwhile endeavor and the State Chamber looks forward to working with the Administration and legislature on the Committee’s recommendations,” said State Chamber of Commerce President A. Richard Heffron.
In addition to Sears, other committee members are:
- Fred Cottrell – Richards, Layton & Finger, appointed by the Senate Minority Leader
- Rick Gessner – Capital One, representing the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce
- Dennis Greenhouse – Former County Executive and State Auditor
- Joshua Martin – Chairperson of DEFAC; Potter Anderson & Corroon – Robert McMurray – Christiana Care Health System, representing the Delaware Business Roundtable
- Mike Morton – Controller General
- Ed Ratledge – Chairperson of DEFAC’s Subcommittee on Expenditures; – ]Jack Riddle – Community Bank, appointed by the House Minority Leader
- Jeff Taschner – DSEA, appointed by the Senate President Pro Tempore
- Ann Visalli – Director of the Office of Management and Budget
- Lincoln Willis – Former State Representatives.