As he began his second term in office, Delaware Governor Jack Markell today delivered his annual State of the State Address to members of the 147th General Assembly.
The governor highlighted business growth opportunities and proposed stronger measures to combat violence and youth suicide during his fifth state of the state address.
While speaking about the state’s business climate, Markell announced the expansion of ILC, a company that manufacturers spacesuits for NASA near Seaford in Sussex County.
“I’m pleased to announce today that ILC Dover will be bringing 150 new jobs and a new production line of packaging material from Mexico to a new plant near Seaford later this year.”
Markell vowed to work with police to crack down on drugs and violence, and proposed funding for six additional troopers for the Violent Crime Fund. Reforming gun legislation also remains a top priority.
“Earlier this week, I joined Lieutenant Governor Denn and Attorney General Biden to propose new legislation to help get guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” he said. “I ask you to join Representative Longhurst and Senator Henry in finishing the job and pass reasonable gun safety legislation that respects Second Amendment rights and makes our streets safer.”
Last year the state reported a staggering 12 suicides among youth ages 13-21 and Governor Markell proposed a significant increase in the number of mental health personnel in middle schools.
“We have the ability to provide some mental health services in Delaware high schools, and we have family crisis therapists in some elementary schools, but we have almost no mental health resources in our middle schools,” said Markell. “Only three of our state’s middle schools have full-time professionals responsible for the mental health needs of students at that critical age.”
The governor also mentioned Hurricane Sandy, saying the state needs to have a “frank conversation” on how to invest in the best preventive measures.
“A dollar invested wisely today can prevent hundreds of dollars of damage tomorrow, whether by strengthening dikes and dams, conserving wetlands, improving drainage, or nourishing beaches,” he said.
When talking about education, the governor noted that the state’s charter school application process needs to be reformed.
“The application process for choice and charter schools has become too burdensome and complicated,” he said. “I talk to parents with children in multiple schools and they look forward to school choice and charter applications with the same enthusiasm that they have for tax season.”
He added that quality education comes from good teachers and the state needs to attract top notch teachers by strengthening the standards of teachers as they enter the workforce and making salaries more competitive.
Markell also talked about his quality of life plan and discussed the latest developments with the First State Trails and Pathways Initiative.
“The Pomeroy Trail connects Newark to White Clay Creek State Park. We’re linking Lewes, Rehoboth and eventually Georgetown with a series of interconnected trails. We’re enhancing and expanding recreational access to the Nanticoke River and Broad Creek. We’re connecting Delaware City to Chesapeake City and extending the Milford Riverwalk. In Dover, we are expanding the Capitol City Trail along the St. Jones River. The Delaware Bayshore Initiative is protecting the Thousand Acre Marsh and expanding the Ted Harvey Wildlife Area. Projects like these improve our quality of life and make our state a magnet for talented workers.”
The governor will deliver his budget address next Thursday in Dover.