All of a sudden the concept of budget discipline (if it ever existed) is right out the door in Delaware.
There's going to be more money, so here come all the little Markell wannabes with their pet projects.
... money for revitalizing private property, or constructing new sidewalks, or subsidizing a public radio station, or purchasing a new hunting preserve.
Delaware buys hunting preserves?
Again: here's the point--budgets are choices. You can't escape them because they become part of the permanent record.
So when legislators spend next year courting your vote, remember to ask these questions?
When you discovered tens of millions of surplus dollars, why didn't you--
--propose a pay increase for state workers, some of whom are so poorly paid that they work full time and still qualify for food stamps? [Price tag: about $21-22 million]
--take action to reduce the impact of massive numbers of teachers and other classroom staff being laid off around the State? [Price tag: about $8million]
--lobby to return School Resource Officers (remember Sandy Hook?) on the State dime to cash-strapped school districts? [Price tag: under $2 million]
--put the money back into the General Reserve, so that we would be able to handle something like a new super-storm? [Price tag: whatever is available]
The answer is pretty simple: the budget choice that your legislators are making is to bribe you into voting for their re-election because they think you are stupid enough to be bought off with a few local pet projects instead of holding out for what's actually a sound expenditure for people around the state.
And please note: the pork is not confined to Dems, or to GOPers: they both have their hands out for their districts because it is cheaper to spend your tax dollars to buy your vote next year than it is to take care of the business they were elected for, and then raise money to buy some campaign signs.
Ironically, Delaware legislators just did something that I thought was impossible: they made Jack Markell's amazing proposal to bail out casino operators look slightly more responsible.
Not much, but slightly.
And that's an amazing accomplishment.