Governor Jack Markell focused on streamlining state government and drawing more businesses to the state in his 2010 State of the State address.
Governor Jack Markell’s 2010 State of the State address highlighted his plans to cut government costs, while drawing businesses, and more importantly jobs, to the First State.
Markell told a joint session of the General Assembly, “By making government leaner and more efficient, we make our state a better place to create new and better jobs.” Part of his plan for a leaner and more efficient government means a change in the way state health care benefits and pensions will be provided. Markell insisted that current state employees, who faced a pay cut last year to balance the state budget, will not have to pay more for health care this year. “Instituting a different set of benefits for future employees” will save the state $75 million over the next five years, he said.
Markell also wants to reduce the amount the state spends on health care for inmates. Last year, the state spent more than $42 million on prison health care. Markell says with an aging population behind bars, “If we do not act, we soon will need to operate nursing homes within our prisons.” He didn’t outline specifics of his plan to fix the problem, but told lawmakers, “We must examine who we’re holding in our prisons and whether we can provide a less expensive, but safe alternative.”
Markell said making state government more efficient will make it more responsive to businesses looking for a place to expand. “We are cutting red tape and eliminating redundant and archaic regulatory hurdles because people can’t grow their businesses or create jobs when they are waiting in line.” He’s announced plans to require DelDOT and DNREC to reform their permit application process, and respond to those applications within 60 days.
Markell highlighted the decision by Fisker Automotive to take over the former GM assembly plant on Boxwood Road. “I firmly believe that Delaware needs to start making things again,” Markell said. With Fisker’s plans to export about half of the vehicles they build at the Boxwood facility, Markell called for a $10 million investment at the Port of Wilmington in this year’s bond bill.
In order to draw more jobs to the state, Markell said it’s vitally important to make sure Delaware’s children have access to high quality education. “Providing a world-class education is not only our moral obligation, our state’s economic future depends on it.” He highlighted the Race to the Top application for funding submitted to the federal government earlier this week as an example of new education reforms being implemented. Part of that reform includes holding teachers accountable for student improvement. “We have adopted a robust evaluation system under which teachers whose students do not show satisfactory levels of growth cannot be rated ‘effective.'”
Delaware’s Finest Hour
Markell wrapped up the address by reflecting on the challenges the state overcame in what he called a “difficult” 2009. He says when future generations look back at this time, “They will say that despite enormous struggles against a record-setting recession and unprecedented budget deficits, we joined together to set the state on a better course.” He closed the speech saying, “Those future generations will look back and say, this was the beginning of Delaware’s finest hour.”