Income tax cut passes Delaware House

The Delaware State House has approved several proposals from Gov. Jack Markell to try to spur economic growth with modest reductions in personal income, gross receipts and public utility taxes.

One bill approved Thursday cuts Delaware’s top personal income tax rate, which applies to income above $60,000, from 6.95 percent to 6.75 percent.

Rep. John Kowalko (D-Newark South), the only House member to vote against the measure, said in a statement made on the House floor that he’s not confident the state’s unpredictable economy can support such a cut.

“The amount of money returned to an earner with an adjusted gross income of $100,000 is $80, hardly a windfall, but the total cost of this tax cut is approximately $7 million in 2012 and $17 million in 2013,” he said.

Another cuts gross receipts tax rates for businesses by three percent and increases the amount that can be excluded from the tax by 25 percent. The House also agreed to eliminate a two-tier tax rate for grocery companies.

A third bill approved by the House reduces public utility tax rates on electricity and natural gas.

Markell proposed the tax reductions after more than $300 million was added to official revenue estimates following his January budget proposal.

GOP leader blasts popular vote bill

The head of the state GOP is blasting legislation calling for Delaware’s inclusion in a nationwide effort to replace the electoral college system with a national popular vote for president.

The bill would require that Delaware’s three electoral votes be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide. The change would take effect only when enough states possessing a majority of the electoral votes pass similar legislation.

Delaware GOP chairman John Sigler wrote in an opinion piece published Thursday that a popular vote would rob small states such as Delaware from having any practical voice in the election.

The House was to vote on the bill Thursday, but it was pulled by the sponsor because of concerns that it might not pass because some supporters were absent.

School contractor bill passes House

Legislation requiring contractors working on school construction to obtain a criminal history background check cleared the House Thursday.

The bill would only affect contractors doing construction work in existing schools, not building new education facilities.

Under the bill, contractors convicted of a violent felony or drug felony would not be permitted to work in an existing school.

The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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