During his time in office, Gov. John Carney has longed for legislation that could garner bipartisan support.
Such opportunities are rare in a state with a dwindling number of moderate Republicans and Democrats.
Progressive Dems continue to roll out social equity measures with little regard for the cost to employers and helped block a constitutional amendment that would set aside more surplus funds for use during hard times. Carney was able to keep the “budget smoothing” process in place and it clearly helped during the early period during the Covid-19 crisis.
Meanwhile, Republicans pushed for an end to early voting while adding anti-riot legislation that is clearly a response to Black Lives Matter protests.
This week, all four legislative caucuses were singing the same tune with a bill that would give each Delaware income tax filer $300 this spring.
Thanks to federal pandemic assistance and surging state income tax revenues, Delaware is sitting on a potential $1 billion budget surplus. That left plenty of room for spending about $200 million or so for the $300 checks.
The proposal is far superior to Maryland’s temporary gas holiday which led to out-of-state motorists lining up at border area gas pumps and owners of gas-guzzlers deriving the biggest benefit.
Republican legislators have been eying the growing surplus and earlier proposed a $100 payment for every legal resident of Delaware. Also introduced were a series of bills that would have made cuts to Delaware business and personal taxes. Whether those cuts could have remained permanent is open to question, given the current 7%-plus inflation rate.
Support for the latest proposal may not be unanimous.
Progressives may argue that the payments should be means-tested with families making $50,000 and under getting bigger payments.
But there is no way such a provision would have gained support among Republicans and even among some moderate Democrats.
The $300 payment is not perfect, but it is an encouraging sign that every once in a while, the two parties can agree on something.
As always, your thoughts on this issue and others are welcome – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.