Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del., delivered his 2013 State of the State address which touched on a wide variety of subjects from job creation to strengthening Delaware’s schools.
In regards to jobs, Markell announced that ILC Dover will bring 115 new jobs to the state to a new facility in the Seaford area sometime this year. The reaction from both Republicans and Democrats was quite positive.
“I was pleased with the majority of what the governor had to say. He came prepared and I think he extended his hand in a way of bipartisanship I think many of us on the senate side and the republican side anticipated and expected,” said (R) Sen. Ernie Lopez, of Delaware’s new 6th District, which includes Rehoboth.
One thing in particular that Sen. Lopez supports is the plan to expand the natural gas infrastructure here in the state. Gov. Markell says over the last four years, Delaware reduced emissions more than any other state, and clean energy projects such as the one at Calpine’s new Dover plant puts the Delaware on the right track.
“That’s one that I agree with. The cost of utilities, electricity in general in Delaware is something that’s skyrocketing for everyone. Not just people but corporations in particular. I think from a corporation side of things we want to make our state more attractive and by expanding natural gas in the state we can continue to do that,” said Lopez.
Other goals ensure communities are safe and those with mental illnesses get the help they need. The governor shared a few personal experiences that motivate those actions.
“I was particularly happy to hear him talk about a focus on mental health for middle school children because that’s the age when children begin to really get in trouble and need assistance,” said Sen. Maragaret Rose Henry,(D-DE 2nd District-Wilmington East).
Just one month after the tragic shooting in Connecticut where 28 people including mostly children, the governor reminded legislators about the Omnibus School Safety Act, which requires preparation of state-of-the-art school safety plans for every Delaware public school within five years. However, Markell would like to see plans implemented much sooner, possibly within two years.
“I certainly intend to reach out to the schools in my district as I already am meeting individual principals. I’m going to start asking them where they are in their school safety plan process,” said Sen. BrianTownsend, D-Del., who represents Bear.
“As we saw in the horrible events in Connecticut recently, sometimes teachers find themselves on the front line of a tragedy. We pray evil like that does not come to our communities. But if it does, we need to be prepared,” added Markell.
As far as education, Gov. Markell admits significant investments to improve education have been made thanks to the General Assembly. According to Markell, as a result, the state is on track to increase the percentage of low-income children enrolled in quality-rated early learning programs. Markell also brought attention to teacher salaries he says should increase as well.
“I represent a lot of high poverty schools and I was pleased to hear him acknowledge the fact that we need to put more resources in terms of teacher pay for teachers who are willing to work in high poverty schools and I think that’s a very good thing,” said Sen. Henry.
“I heard the governor outline some incredibly exciting things that will take our education system to the next level. Valuing teachers and building a system around those teachers, valuing our parents and the experience that they have and how we change the preparation of our teachers to make sure they’re ready day one,” said Delaware Depart. of Education Secretary Mark Murphy.
Improving the quality of life was also addressed and initiatives such as the First State Trails and Pathways Initiative, which will connect neighborhoods, parks and downtowns throughout our state is just one of many examples Markell highlighted.
“Delaware is blessed with beautiful beaches, parks, scenic farmland, a vibrant arts community and a rich culture and historical heritage,” said Markell.
Meanwhile lawmakers who packed Legislative Hall in Dover appeared to not only have positve reaction after the Governor’s remarks, they seem even more excited now to get to work. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to serve the 11th district and now that we had the state of state address, I’m looking forward to getting to work,” Sen.Townsend added.