Governor Jack Markell stressed the need to contain Medicaid and health care costs, to continue improving the quality of education, and to have the state work as a partner in growing jobs as he delivered his fourth State of the State address in Dover.
“We must put outselves in the shoes of those who create jobs,” Markell said during his address to a joint session of the Delaware General Assembly in Dover. “We’ve got to understand the industries in our state better than any other state. And we’ve got to be more committed to the success of businesses in our state than any other state.”
Markell said his administration would continue investments into the Delaware Infrastructure Fund, and will consider opportunities for a public / private partnership to expand and modernize the Port of Wilmington with the goal of developing more international trade. Also, Markell will press for more investments into the Delaware Strategic Fund, which is used to attract and retain large employers by offering such amenities as tax incentives.
The Governor also proposed to expand tax credits to Delaware businesses that hire military veterans.
Addressing the need to create the “workforce of tomorrow,” Markell outlined several education initiatives. They include efforts to expand education in other languages, further investments in early childhood education, and further developing a performance appraisal system, with a focus on student progress.
Markell will further outline fiscal challenges facing the state when he gives his Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal January 26th. Thursday, he did indicate that he wants to rein in the costs of Medicaid.
“Over the last 10 years, this program has grown 127-percent, to the point where federal and state spending together exceeds $1.2-billion a year,” Markell said. “The total commitment of taxpayer dollars on health care is staggering. Yet the expectation is that year after year we will continue to pay more for health care, whether we receive quality results or not.” The Governor added that the current health care system has incentives that “reward neither efficiency nor quality.”
“In essence, we don’t have a health care system; we have a sick care system,” Markell said.
Markell is a Democrat, in the final year of his first term as Governor.