Aside from the usual cheerleading by the News Journal (we'll get to that in a moment), the fact that all Democrats and all but one Republican in the end voted for this budget is a good indicator of exactly how broken the two-party system is.
Remember this meme: budgets are choices.
Remember this reality: if you are a legislator, talk is cheap--voting is what matters.
Think about the hypocrisy on display here.
Yesterday in the House of Representatives not one person stood up and said, "I won't vote for this budget because it gives away tens of millions of taxpayers dollars to multi-billion-dollar corporations while we have full-time State employees so poorly paid that they qualify for Food Stamps." [Hear that, custodians and secretaries and painters and mechanics? Exactly why are you voting for people who continue to lie to you?]
Not one representative stood up to say, "I won't vote for this budget because it gives away $8 million in taxpayer money to privately owned Delaware casinos, even though the casinos themselves and industry experts admit that this bail-out probably won't save any jobs." [Hear that, all you small business owners struggling to make it on your own? No welfare for you.]
Not one representative stood up to say, "I won't vote for this budget because we exploded the monies allocated to the administrative office of the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security without somehow finding the money to put School Resource Officers back into our schools." [Hear that, all you parents who got worried after Sandy Hook? Nah, but you'll still vote them back into office.]
Not one representative stood up to say, "I won't vote for this budget because in real terms we have actually cut public education." [Hear that, DSEA? Nah, but you'll still send them campaign contributions.]
Not one representative stood up to say, "I won't vote for this budget because once again we haven't found the money for a pay increase for State employees, even though we raised their taxes." [Hear that, public employee labor unions? Nah, but you'll still vote Democrat.]
Not one representative stood up to say, "I won't vote for this budget because I don't believe that in a period of supposed 'fiscal challenges' and tax increases that we should be paying $123,000 to the Kalmar Nickel so that the Delaware Tourism Office is entitled to as many free junkets as it wants."
[Just in case you didn't believe that last one, hear it is:]
I could give you several hundred reasons for either Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals, standing up to oppose this budget, but it doesn't matter because--in the end--they didn't.
In many cases, as is legislative practice under the two-party system, people got paid off with special appropriations to their pet causes or for pork-related projects in their districts with the understanding that to get theirs they had to sign onto the overall budget bill.
In the real world, this is called a bribe, and it does not reflect well on either party--the one who offers or the one who accepts. In our State legislature this is known as "the Delaware Way."
What legislators will tell you is that they have to get a budget passed, and that budgets are compromises, and that they have to do the "responsible" thing.
At 40-1 in favor of this budget in the House, there was a lot of room for, say, 10 or 12 or even 19 legislators to stand on their principles and refuse to endorse this budget because it violates them.
But they didn't. It's a club, this comfortable two-party system. Remember House Speaker Pete Schwarzkopf saying that even with a majority the Democrats wouldn't act on tax increases without Republican assent? Uh huh. Remember the days when you used to be able to count on at least some Republicans voting against the budget? Uh huh.
What it comes down to is that despite the impassioned rhetoric of a John Kowalko about the lies that the administration tells about the education budget, he voted for it.
What it comes down to is that despite campaigning as fiscal conservatives, folks like Mike Ramone and Joe Miro voted for it.
Budgets are choices, and voting is more important than talking.
They all voted for it because they know that in the current system if they ALL vote for it then--usually--NONE of them will suffer any electoral consequences for supporting it.
It's not that the budget was good, it's that the budget was GOOD ENOUGH to allow them to get re-elected.
And as for the News Journal, you've got to love this:
Markell’s budget increased spending for the Department of Education, the state agency receiving the most general funds, by 4.3 percent over the current year, fully funding public school population and cost growth with $11 million in new money.Uh, guys? I know you're in the tank for him over at the Markell News Journal, but could occasionally bother to point out that these increases are not in the budget because the governor is a great guy, but because they were mandated by law. If, for example, you have more kids enroll in public schools, the law says that, uh, you gotta allocate additional funds per child.
It's bureaucratic, not heroic.
It's kind of encapsulated in Rep. Joe Miro saying it was disingenuous to ask for tax increases before you were far enough along to discover that revenue projections went high enough not to need them, and then he voted for the damn budget anyway.
I'm not sure exactly how all the folks who claim to represent the interests of different constituencies around the state from teachers to ordinary taxpayers manage to justify their cynical vote to not make waves and validate the "business as usual" approach to the budget process.