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It’s a pun off of the word stagflation which was short for stagnant inflation.  Stagpression is short for stagnant depression.  It is the most accurate indicator of our economic situation today, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…

We seem to be in a Depression. but we aren’t.  The Housing market is recouping, jobs are consistently growing, energy costs have dropped,  corporate profits are now at record, higher than just before the 1929 crash, and an all time record high stock market..  We should be booming. But we aren’t.  We still have too high of an unemployment both on and off the books, we still have depressed low wages, we have lost massive wealth within the middle class over this century so far, we have record high student loan debt, we have low consumer confidence,  Hence, one class of America is booming.  The other class is still in Depression mode.  Hence we are in Stagpression….

It is easy to see why.

Here is a chart showing the free cash flow of businesses……

Free Cash Flow

Record highs. See?  Record highs.  We should be growing faster than China, we have so much investment money at our fingertips. But no.

Here is our investment track record…

Fixed Reinvestment

Ironically as we gave our businesses more and more money with lower taxes, less regulation, tax funded price supports, hand-tied their unions, and made free new technology at our taxpayers expense, despite all these perks and incentives, they invested less.  So what are they doing with their money?   Pick up any financial publication and read the headlines. They all will let you know.

Rather than invest in plants and equipment, businesses are primarily using their funds to repurchase their own stocks in order to boost management earnings and ward off hostile take-overs, pay dividends to stockholders, and accumulate large cash and bond holdings.

None of which help our economy. It is as if we work hard, buy their products, and they put that money into a mattress. Soon, we are going to run out of money. Fortunately the Fed has filled the gap by printing more and giving it to banks for free. It too, filters though the system, and when it gets to the top, it goes into the mattress.

Instead of recycling money, we are letting the tap flow from our printing presses to the top echelon of our society… Now do you get it?

What is missing is a system that recycles the materials back into our economy so we have less money we need to print. If we were talking about paper, we would be saying we need to recycle paper to keep from cutting down more and more trees simply to fill up our landfills….

We need a system to return that money to the bottom so it can rise again and again and again.

Here are the options that have been tried.

  • Price and pay freezes.
  • Government set and regulated prices.
  • Lower tax rates.
  • Cash incentives from taxpayers to reinvest.
  • Pleas and entreaties from the Oval Office.
  • Higher marginal tax rates.

Only one of these has worked.  Can you guess which one?    If you guessed higher tax rates spur reinvestment you are absolutely correct.

Notice the rates of reinvestment climbing in each of these presidencies:  Eisenhower, Kennedy-Johnson,  Carter,  Clinton each time  Congress legislated higher marginal tax rates.  Also notice the drops under Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush as Republicans cut the taxes…  The Bush Tax Cuts held through Obama’s first term, and account for today’s sluggish reinvestment. More precisely, the reinvestment turned upwards under Obama  until 2010 when Republicans took over Congress, and has fallen since. I can’t wait to see 2013’s numbers, for I expect to see real investment increase there as well. However those higher tax rates on the top half percent implemented at 2013’s beginning, sent financiers scurrying and bargain empty homes were bought up by investors with lots of cash which brought up the floor of the housing market (perhaps to our future peril).  It also accounts for stocks becoming an area of liquidity to hold cash,..explaining the record highs ….

So we have an opposite relationship:  cutting taxes increases corporate profits which go elsewhere other than reinvestment back into the ecnomy.

Increasing taxes, cuts into the Free Cash Flow, and funnels some of that flow over to reinvestment projects.

Ever wonder how Delaware’s 3 banks lasted for decades and then all disappeared very close to each other?  Bank of Delaware, Delaware Trust, and Wilmington Trust. are now owned  by other entities. (Wilmington Trust had some hand in cutting off its own foot).  Commerce Bank, which was New Jersey based had the same fate.

They lasted for years because big banks never had enough free money to buy them out.  Just think.  In Delaware there are now 3 less bank presidents.  18 less bank officers,  and who knows how many clerical workers are missing because the work goes to the owners headquarters, not located here…. One still wonders if our state could be better off, had MNBA not been bought up by an outside conglomerate.

So giving more money to businesses and corporations in this case, cost us jobs… and destroyed 3 long termed Delawarean corporations…

That was one example.  Across this nation, in every city,  every county, every state are millions more….

Raising the tax rates drives re-investment.  It is the only thing we know of so far that consistently works to drive re-investment.   Everyone who insists on cuts and de-regulation, no matter how they spin it, is pursuing a policy that has been completely disproven by reality and fact and of course, recent history..

Are you better off than you were under Clinton?  Your income level will probably determine your answer…..  Because yes, some people are indeed, a lot better off.   John Carney.  Tom Carper.  Chris Coons,  Jack Markell, to name 4 off the top of my head….  Better off too, are those who these four represent… the 1%.  Much better off!

If you find someone willing to raise taxes, stick to them like glue. They are the ones who will lead us back to prosperity…..

Until then, economic stagpression will continue…. continuing through tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow….(at a) petty pace that creeps from day to day….

Governor Markell in a distraction to focus attention away from Charter Schools breaking all sorts of statutes, has proposed a controversial 10 cent tax increase on each gallon of gas…

If you are like me at all, and I’m sure a large number of you are, when you first heard that you probably echoed my words or something to it.  “Are you effin crazy?  We just finally got prices back down under $3.33 a gallon (the feel good mark since $10 will buy you 3 gallons which will get you 60 miles or 150 in you have a 50 mpg car…. )!!!

Seriously, how are we going to get back on our feet?

Then I saw the car in front of me swerve and I didn’t and hit the pot hole digging it out another inch… Someone’s got to fix those I said…

Light bulb.

Now I have to get an alignment….  The cheapest alignment in Delaware is $69.95…  but I know the guy.  He charges everyone else $89.95…   So I asked myself how often to I have to get an alignment?  The correct answer if I was being truthful to myself?…. every time I hit a pot hole.  How much does it cost me if I don’t get alignments?  At $150 per tire, $600 dollars.  $300 if I just do the front…

I don’t know if you have noticed but there are an awful lot of potholes that just showed up this week.  i can name locations of about 20, some of which are pretty scary.

Is it cheaper for me to  pay 10 cents a gallon I wondered instead of buying new tires?   So I turned off Rick Jensen and did the math.

At 10 cents a gallon, my cheap alignment would equal  699.5 gallons.   Meaning if I didn’t pay the tax and suffered paying alignments, I would have to  burn up 699 gallons to break even… At  gallon 700, the cost  of the alignment becomes cheaper than the tax on the gas.  And that is a cheap alignment.  The $89.95 version would cost you 899 gallons of gas.  When you burn gallon 900, no tax and the allignment becomes cheaper.

How far does 899 gallons take you?… At 20 miles per gallon, it would carry you 17,980 miles….   if you get 25 mpg, it takes you up to 22,475 miles.  That is almost 2 years of driving in a leased car…. It is almost a year of driving for a normal family car with teen age kids.

So  if you don’t pay taxes on gas at 10 cents a gallon and just pay for alignments, at mile 22,476 you break even.  How many alignments will you have over that time? Bad as roads are today, possibly 4. at 3 month intervals…   Therefore by saving 10 cents a gallon, you would be spending  the amount for 4 alignments, or $359… in 22,476 miles…   So which would you rather pay?  $89.95 or $359 each year?

So what if you buck it and skip the alignments and just buy tires when the metal pokes through?  Well,  in two days since the pothole incident, I’ve lost all the tread off the corners of my tires, or about 50,000 miles worth.  The centers are still like new so at that rate, it would probably be a month before I have to buy two new front tires, and the going rate for big tires on sale is near $150 each installed, some more, some less of course. That equals 3 alignments right there…

So what if I don’t pay 10 cents a gallon tax, and never hit a pot hole… What happens then?   Fat chance that will ever happen, but if such a miracle ever were to occur, it would have saved you  $89.95 across every 22,475 miles…..

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Now I certainly understand the emotional side of putting ones foot down and saying no to paying 10 cents more per gallon.   if you are like me you watched gas go up after George Bush was elected, and climb, and climb, and climb, and climb, and climb, and then, when the speculators had to cover their margins, it dropped to $1.40 a gallon.  Remember that?  Today the sell-shorts are larger than the sell-longs. That means BIG money is betting on the price of oil to fall over time, not rise.  Prices will continue to be near this level for a long time.  It sort amounts to a savings for us when we fill up at the pump.  A weeks driving at $4.00 cost us $100.  Now it costs us $83.25…  We have $16.75 to spend on other things,  Like 5.67th Rita Water Ices….which honestly, we wouldn’t have bought if gas was $4.00 a gallon….

I understand the emotional backlash.

It’s like being frustrated and behind, frustrated and behind, frustrated and behind, and finally there is an opening, a break going our way, and someone is trying to scoop that up away from us… How dare they!..Makes perfect sense….. that is on an emotional level….

But, what if you had a leaky roof?

Would you, when money finally came into your possession after a long drought, say, well we need to have some fun, lets blow it, whoopee?

Maybe… but if you had a roof that dripped, and could never have afforded the cost of a patch or replacement, and fatalistically accepted your plight in life with buckets mapped out in precise arrangements every time precipitation was announced,  would that change your calculations?  Would it make sense to first use that first extra money coming in, to fix that roof now, instead of letting it go, increasing its future repair cost with each month it goes unfixed?  Wouldn’t it be wise to put off going to the beach and use more extra money, instead of going now on the little bit you have, and having the roof cost more later?

That is where we are with this 10 cents a gallon controversy.  We want to spend our money at the beach this summer, and let the roof go.  But we should fix the roof first, and we all know it…  we just don’t want to do it…..

Politics aside, this is just a smart decision.  Putting a tiny bit aside now from everyone, to prevent a huge cost later in the future.  If you look at the costs of doing nothing, this 10 cents a gallon saves us money…. It really doesn’t hurt us; it really does help us save beaucoup de dollars…

Between last Thursday night and last Friday morning, the price of gas jumped 12 cents. from $3.27 up to $3.39.   Has anyone complained vociferously?  Have you heard anyone complain vociferously?  Have you seen any news media outlets running stories on the corporate price hike that was 20% HIGHER than the proposed gas tax increase?…. No.

Because it really isn’t that big of a deal.  Compare that to how many people you tell when you buy tires and get the sticker shock!  Because that is a big deal…

There are 1 million people in Delaware.  But 70 times that, 70 million come into Delaware every summer to visit our beaches…  Mathematically that  means the gas tax will be paid by 1 million Delawareans for 52 weeks a year and 70 million for one week a year while they are here on vacation.  So if we use 50 gallons of gas per week, per person (imagine little babies driving cars, lol)  that $5 of extra tax would be generate from Delaware’s citizenry, ($5.00 X i million X 52 weeks per year) or  $260 million each year, and from the visitors, ($5.00 X 70 million X 1 week)  or $350 million would be added to our coffers.  So the total  would be $260 of which came from us, and $350 which comes from our visitors.

Delaware then gets a benefit of $610 million dollars while coughing up $260 million… which as we said above, really doesn’t hurt us at all on an individual scale.  So if people were cars, we’d have $610 million.  But, the ratios opf in-state and out-of-state automobiles remain the same, since the allotment of vehicles is similarly proportioned to the amount of people.  Just with Motor Vehicle data I didn’t bother to look for, we can make a very close calculation in dollar figures which should closely mirror the  42% of the total received revenue that Delawareans would actually pay…..

It is very rare when one finds a tax where it costs one less to pay, than not to pay….  This one is…

Cons

Raises tax on gasoline by 10 cents  per gallon.  If gas costs $3.33 today, with tax it will cost $3.43.

Does not tax the wealth as much a percent of their income, as it would tax those on the lower levels.

Takes consumer’s money away from discretionary spending on other items.

Could cause truckers to fuel up in other states.

At a drive rate of 25,000 miles per year, at an mpg of 20 miles per gallon, the number of gallons used would be 1,250.  A ten cent tax on each of those gallons amounts to $125 per year…  Per month that would be .. $10.41… Per day…$ 0.32…  If one drives less, or has higher mpg, one pays less.

Gasoline tax has lost its value over the past decade. Changes in fuel-saving automotive technology and driving habits are resulting in less revenue to repair crumbling bridges, repave highways or upgrade buses and trains.

Pros

Jobs, jobs, jobs,  with funding highway construction can get into gear.

Solidifies the Transportation Trust Fund, which has been robbed to simply run government. That’s been squeezed and squeezed and squeezed, and specifically what has been squeezed out of it is the ability to build more capacity to deal with congestion. All that’s left, pretty much, in the capital budget at the state level (for roads), is maintenance and repair.

DelDOT’s capital budget would increase from $128 million this year up to $192 million next year.

Opens door of super high tax rate on the super high wealthy in this state. Those who should be paying 15%.

Encourages people to use less petroleum.  Smaller cars, higher MPG’s, more public transit, less pollution,  get bumps when gas rises higher.

Allows state to tap in on all those people using 95 who pull into the best service center on the East Coast, perhaps the nation.

County and local roads which have also have suffered, may now finally receive repair.

The current poor condition of roads costs drivers in Delaware cost $2,500 per person per year in extra fuel, wear-and-tear and lost time.  This cost must be balanced against the cost of an additional 10 cents per gallon. (Compared to the $125 per year cost of the tax.)

We paid more in the past.  Driving the same 25,000 miles back when cars ran on 10 mpg,  the same mileage would have generated.  $250 dollars…  Fuel efficiency has cost state transportation funds half of what they once used to receive….

The tax was last raised in 1995… Since then, what we could once buy for $250.00, we would now need $382.00.  The money we collect does not go half as far….

States with lower gas taxes actually pay more for the gas in the pumps because the market will bear it.  Sam’s Gas (Walmart) in Athens, Georgia, where there is  a 7.5 cents Georgia state tax on gasoline…. sells gas for $2.99….   Putting the price of  the cheapest Athens, Georgia gas today is $2.915… In Delaware, Wawa has $3.23 up on their sign, (as of a couple of hours ago.)  Today Delaware’s tax is 23 cents per gallon…  The cost of the gas minus taxes is $2.99….  some may say… aha!  Georgia is cheaper.  But that would be comparing Sam’s Club to Wawa.  One would expect Sam’s Club to be cheaper… It is a “club”… is it not?  The lowest priced national brand in Athens, Georgia is the Shell Station on Atlanta Ave. near Trade Street.  It’s pump cost is $3.19…  Deduct the 7.5 cent gasoline tax, and Georgians are paying $3.115 per gallon for gas;  the comparative Delawarean price with Delaware’s tax tacked on, would be… $3.35….  Today that is 8 cents higher than most stations sell in Delaware today…..  Point is… consumers don’t absorb the gas cost… The $4 billion dollar gas companies do!

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The benefits outweigh the cost.

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With so many great benefits, it seems senseless to halt them all for a price jump that can occur on it’s own at a moment’s notice…  No more difference from driving past a gas station in night checking the price, and doing it again in the morning and cursing you didn’t fill up the night before…

Thus, are the pros and cons of raising a gas tax….  if the poor and middle class are being asked to sacrifice, come later, THE WEALTHY HAD BETTER BE FORCED TO DO THE SAME…. IT’S AN ELECTION YEAR YOU KNOW……  Pass this minor tax on the poor, then raise state income rates where they should be… As a reminder I’ve included them below…….

Recommendations for 2014:

Go to multiple tiered tax rates:

15% on $1 billion or more
10% on $100 million to $1 billion
9% on $10 million to $100 million
8% on $1 million to $10 million
7% on $500,000 to $1 million
6.75% on $60,000 up to $1 million

(and Independents (including Libertarians))

There are hundreds of reasons.  The major one history…. This one is a small, insignificant one, but added to the heap of others it provides amazing clarity…

“Democrats are seen an more willing to work with the other party, by a margin of 52% to 27%.

Take ten random people and line them up….  5 of those now see Democrats as the more willing to work with the other party.  3 of those see Republicans as willing to work.  2 others are on the sidelines waiting to see what happens…..

Add those 2 to the Democrats 5, and you have a super majority that can pass legislation without worrying how it helps or hurts the other party.   But add those 2 to the Republican side, you at best, will get stalemate, at 5 vrs. 5…….

Meaning that there is only one way to go. Swear not to vote for a Republican, ever, and if you are a Conservative, go out and find a Conservative democrat.  Trust me, they are out there.  As one looks across the Democrat party today, one sees much complaining that Democrats from conservative districts, are too conservative….  

Voting for a Democrat will never hurt you or the nation.  Voting for a Republican does, every time they win an office….  Don’t feel sad; they brought it upon themselves…. 

(This is not some political spew; it is a thoughtful rendition of the reality faced by America today. If the roles were reversed, I’d be championing the other party.)

As the weeks sneak past, the cry of the unemployed becomes fainter and fainter.  It’s official. The Republicans won. They were right; we were wrong. For them, indeed, it was a good political move. They were right. Everyone cares about money saved; no one cares about people anymore, even those suddenly destitute, hit almost without warning.

I guess since there are no stories out there now of what it is like to have no money, the Republican got it right about our concern over the long term unemployed. Those unemployment checks were going to freeloaders and as soon as the money quit, they all got jobs.  At least that is what one would certainly think, from the silence, from the complete lack of stories, lack of diaries, or even lack of pleas to get something moving again on the assisting the unemployed.  It’s like the Republicans said “no”, and that was it… no more long term unemployment… Gravy train—> over… Back to work you scum….

Who would have expected it could have worked out this well?  Certainly no one I know.  We are all shell-shocked that any concern for these fellow citizens has just gone, evaporated. It appears that people are indeed, despite their lip-service, privately tired ot those lazy, cheapskates, mooching off the public dole, and that, though they say “tisk, tisk, you shouldn’t cut them”, there simply is no heart in them anymore to treat people more humanely than say, corporations….

Just out of curiosity over how this could be so, how we could have been so wrong, I wanted to crunch numbers for myself to see if it was true.

It is estimated that there are 4 million workers who are over 26 weeks unemployed. As of December 28th, there were 1.3 million who would lose benefits.   That would be week zero of the crises.  From December 29th through January 4th.  70,000 more were Immediately dropped high and dry. Then the following week, January 5th through the 11th,  another 70,000 tumbled off the roles.. The week following, January 12th through the 18th, 70,000 more…. Last Saturday, saw the grand total rise by another 70,000 people…. We have now gone a full month, at four times 70,000 and have added 280,000 more destitute families to our national roster….  1.58 million families are facing their own personal Grapes of Wrath… In the silence of public outcry, Republicans just laugh and laugh while they swim in the Congressional pool and wipe their clean butts now with clean towels, (now that the sequester and shutdowns are over)….

What’s the effect of all this?  I do Federal Budgets so these numbers are small to me… What’s a million?.  Chump change…  or  1 X 10^-12  or 0.000000000001 of my problems….It is so small it is very hard to visualize the human cost.  It is far easier to visualize the dollars saved.. The initial cut saved approximately . $ 397 million  ($306 listed as the average unemployment check amount)… Each subsequent week that total climbs as 70,000 X $306 or $21,420,000 gets added to the amount the Republicans are saving America….So as of last week, January 25th the chart of weekly savings looks like this….

  • $397 million  as of January 4th
  • $418 million as of January 11th
  • $440 million as of January 18th
  • $461 million as of January 25th.

Total saved America courtesy of the Republicans of the United States of America is… $1.76 billion dollars! Roughly one thousandth of our budget….

The total number of people claiming unemployment benefits in all programs for the week ending January 4 was 3,706,087, a decrease of 1,003,734 from the previous week. There were 5,659,482 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2013.

Hats off to them.  They saved money by taking care of a problem Democrats were too squeamish to handle.  Why have extended unemployment at all?  There was no where else that money could be saved, and it was time those lazy, useless freeloaders went back to work anyways.   There is no where else to make up that money.

For last month they already let tax breaks expire for college tuitions.  That’s been done; $4 billion saved.. Last month they let teachers writing-off their classroom expenses, expire.  That saved almost a billion.  No mortgage insurance premiums can be now be deducted. That saved over $5 billion dollars.  If you lived in a state with no sales tax, where you used to be able to deduct state and local sales taxes, .. you can’t now. Savings of $16 billion. The mortgage-modification tax break expired… meaning if your home was under water,  and you got relief from a bank, you get taxed on the amount of relief, thousands more than you can afford….  Got to love those Republicans, saving America money..

And of course no one can make changes to these tax breaks... The Cato Institute estimates that direct  federal subsidies to corporations costs taxpayers almost $100 billion every year. Furthermore, the tax code gives corporations special tax-breaks which reduced what is supposed to be a 35 percent tax rate to an actual tax rate of 13 percent, saving these corporations an additional $200 billion annually,,, Likewise, special tax breaks for hedge fund managers allowing them to pay only 15% rate?  (This is the break where the multimillionaire manager pays less of a percentage in taxes than her secretary). Estimates are that this costs taxpayers $83 billion annually and 68% of those who receive this special tax break earn far more than $462,500 per year (the top one percent of earners).

So Republicans are laughing all the way to the bank.  None of their money was touched, and $1.6 billion was saved on the backs of people who apparently live inside the cone of silence… I don’t hear outrage anymore, do you?

After all, what they did all those freeloaders, was apparently a favor. They finally got them off their ass and made them get a job. No lazy asses in a Republican-run world.. Bring on 2014…

They did all get a job, right? No one is saying anything to the contrary, so surely, they all got a job, right? All you have to do is walk up to a business and say, “I need a job” and they give it to you on the spot, right? Of course, right? Isn’t that how it’s done on TV sitcoms? If you need a job, you just go out and get one. Like Drake and Josh? So, everybody is now working, right, except those lazy butts whose long term still has not run out!

Let’s look. Here is the unemployment table for December 2013….

  • A)  According to the BLS 37.7% or over one third of all our unemployed are over 27 weeks…
  • B)  24.4% or one fourth land a job in 4 weeks and start in 5…
  • C)  Another quarter or 24.4% get a job their second month… that’s up to 8 weeks between jobs.
  • D)  The remaining 16% or one seventh of the unemployed, get their replacement job somewhere between the 3rd and 6th month….
  • It is the first third, or 37.7%,  who will lose benefits…. They are the losers….

“These had better get off their sasses, get over to Burger King, and start flipping (cooking) burgers.” (actual statement by Congressman on Budget Committee). So are they?

The advanced number for seasonally-adjusted insured-unemployment during the week ending January 11, was 3,056,000, an increase of 34,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,022,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,939,000, an increase of 31,000 from the preceding week’s revised average of 2,908,000.

What? Unemployment claims are rising? That can’t be. People should be going back to work, not more people getting laid off! How will those long-term people now with no income, courtesy of the laughing House Republicans, get all those jobs they were supposed to walk in, demand, and get? You say there are now even more unemployed?

December’s unemployment for the month, was at a 6.7 %… The last monthly rate below 6.7% occurred in October 2008... the month after Lehman collapsed. (Amazing this Obama)  Unemployment is almost at pre-recession levels. But wait! Something must be wrong… 1 million unemployment claims just disappeared overnight on December 28th… What jobs did they all get? Burger King?

January’s jobs data is embargoed until February 7th…. But based off of December’s estimates, here is what HAS to happen for Republican wet dreams to come true. Over the course of last year, across all of 2013, the ranks of the long-term unemployment declined by 897,000. For Republican dreams to materialize, this month of, January 2014, total employment must rise by 1.58 million workers or by a total equal to all those left unpaid by long term employment…. For the record, that would be a 60% increase in one single month, over the entire past year’s hirings decreasing the totals of the long-term unemployed….

It probably won’t happen.

Since the unemployed usually spend all their check each week, the economy for January just toof a hit of $1.67 billion dollars from the lack of money these unemployed would have spent.. Most of that was felt immediately in retail. Retail just hired 55,000 new hires in December. I hope most still have jobs.

One further factor which sort of smudges up the calculations, making things not so clear cut, … is the the huge number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) which has remained essentially unchanged at 7.8 million through December. These individuals who are working part time because their hours have been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time work.

I expect this to probably be where most of the absorption of the ex-communicated long termed unemployed will be found…..

Now so far, all I’ve talked about is money. But being unemployed is much more. It is about people…Human beings less fortunate than you or I, but, at a moment’s notice, at the whim of a boss and having no protections, we know we could be there too.(let’s hope the swirling rumors over HSBC’s imminent Lehman-sized collapse, aren’t true.)

How does one possibly show the human cost that this Republican obstinance is doing to the optimism, and the pride of this nation, the United States of America? Many of you are too young to remember this image ingrained in us,  but try to imagine a map of the United States of America and that it is under attack by nuclear weapons… When a strike hits, a white circle flashes on the map showing each lost city….

December 28th 2013….. San Diego…… Gone…… 1.3 million people.
January 4th 2014….. Wilmington Delaware…. gone… 70,000 people
January 11th 2014….. Canton, Ohio…… gone…. 70,000 people.
January 18th 2014….. Rapid City SD … gone…. 70,000 people.
January 25th 2014….. Scranton PA…… gone…. 70,000 people.

If these were real nukes dropping on our fellow citizens, launched by a sub-class of our fellow citizens, would we still be as silent, afraid to step out of line and express concern over fear of how we’d look to our corporate bosses and the snitches we work beside, and just shrug off the laughing Boehner and Cantor as they dry off with clean white cotton towels in the U.S House of Representatives members-only pool? I’m worried the answer is yes.

Well, guess what? There is something you can do. Act. Stop waiting. Do something. Act. Phone. Email. Text… Just act and tell your friends to act too.

Addendum: I saw this afterwards… it’s so ironic. After snuggly bashing the Soviets for years (and I was good at it) as being softly inferior to us tough, old capitalists, I with pure admiration today see their progeny in the squares of Ukraine, who won’t accept injustice lying down, who won’t see their dreams arbitrarily squelched, who won’t let something just get taken away from them because that entity is so powerful and distant, it seems senseless to contest it… I see them, and I say… wow, we really suck as human beings.. What is wrong with us?

And then I again see by the pool, Boehner and Cantor, just gaffawing away at us timid Democrats… Oh well. I guess that is how it goes. Sigh.

.

In New York they are debating the cost of Pre K.  Everyone thinks it is a good deal, but to pay for it by raising taxes on only the rich?  The tax which is in discussion will cost roughly $1000 on incomes over $500,000.  New York has a lot of those.

The anti-taxers are beginning their push-back. …. A little history might be right for the rebuttal….

Taxes are too low and that is the reason for most of our economic slump.  Today’s low rates make it too profitable to skim money’s off the top… and nothing is getting reinvested back into the economy….  Taxes, we discovered across the expanse of the 20th Century,  are a tool of public policy and today, they are not being effectively used…

Higher taxes and a stronger government presence in the economy, is essential to economic stability.  The evidence to that is unquestionable.  Deregulated markets do some good, but are not the  complete answer to running a great society….  When one runs a business, one is always under constant pressure to reinvest some of ones profits back into ones business, or…  choose to  take the other option and keep the extra as profit.  We all hate those who chose the latter.

If something is broken, one should fix it, right?  That means spending money now.

Children of low income and minority households enter our school system with half of the vocabulary-words needed.  There is no way that can be fixed at home.  If one’s household does not use a wide vocabulary, one cannot get a wide vocabulary at home.  Having Pre-K and exposing all children to 10000+ words upon entering school, would almost close the achievement gap at it’s beginning.

We know what has to be done.  10,000+ words per child.  Just reading story-books with children would be enough to develop that… And the  benefit would dwarf the tiny cost….  It is that simple; reading children’s stories to them… something affluent parents do daily.

On to taxes.  From the 1940’s to the 1960’s the top tax rate gradually lowered from 100% to 72%… The JFK dropped it down to 60% to where it stayed until the great tax cutter, Ronald Reagan, dropped it to 50%…  Obviously every Republican who loves Ronald Reagan should have no qualms with accepting a 50% top marginal rate… They should be volunteering to pay that high, don’t you think?

Rates were cut again to 28% and when the cut  hit, the huge recession of ’91 began.  Upon entering office, Clinton raised them to 39% and the economy took off.   Took off until Bush cut taxes down to 35%…. They stayed at that level until last year, when the top half of one percent, got hit with a top rate or 39.5%….

This was the 1% most prosperous year ever….  needless to say, higher taxes improves one’s fortunes, not diminish them….

How much is $1000?  To the super rich?   If your average rate of return on $500,000 is 7%, over the year you should gain $35,000…. Divided by 365 days of the year, that would amount to  96 dollars a day…  So $1000 would be 11 days of interest off your $500,000.  That means you could keep the other 355 days worth…

Plus, at bringing all children in at 10,000 words, think of all the future costs that can be saved by then doing away with Pearson, MacLatchey, AIR and all the other consultants…. Pay a little now; save a lot later.

Any argument over being taxed more for kindergarten, or for any other viable reason, needs to be taken worth a grain of salt.    of course people are going to yell.  Even babies yell and they don’t even know why.  But we don’t let babies rule every aspect of our lives now, do we?

Or, do we?

 

In 2012,…. 21.8% of all people under 18, lived in poverty, that is defined as a family of 4’s income under $23,050 (total yearly income)..That comes to under $443 per week. …

One in 5 children across America or 21.8%, live like that.   (More than a majority of Americans (58.5%) will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75.)..

The ratio is one in five.  In a class of 10, two students will be attending from a home under poverty.  In a class of 20, four students will come from families living in poverty.

Below is childhood poverty tracked across 53 years starting in 1959.

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Whatever we did from 1965 to 1979, we need to do again… See the low dip on the chart?  Our current high level of poverty is very near the record, with one major exception.  Unlike all other peaks we have plateaued at this bubble’s highest amount.  Notice how in 1993 and 1983, the same levels were reached under those two presidents, but quickly descended thereafter?  Since the election of the Tea Party Republicans to Congress, for the first time, poverty has stayed steady at the high water mark, for over 3 years in a row..

As soon as President’s Lyndon Baines Johnson’s War on Poverty took effect (50 years ago) child poverty declined until Reagan cut taxes in 1981… After he raised them back in a now famous agreement with Tip O’Neil, as the economy grew, childhood poverty fell.  Again after Clinton raised taxes in 1993, the poverty level dropped over the rest of his term, until George Bush and the Republicnas cut taxes again… Since those taxes were cut, the childhood poverty level has risen to the record levels it is near today….

Tax Cuts have repercussions that extend far beyond the wealthy getting more money back in taxes.  Higher tax rates boost the working economy; lower tax rates shred it…….

It is imperative that tax rates get raised as quickly as possible so this current plateau, the first 3 year one ever, the one created by the inaction of Congress because Republicans put the Tea party iin control of hte House…begins to drop down the other side.

Time is running out.  like global warming there will be a critical point we know is coming but where it comes we can’t predict.  The same urgency and fear need applied to childhood poverty and education’s role in helping end it…

First Buffet, now Gates.  Higher rates of taxation are necessary to rectify our society, even if limited for the short term….

It is nice when those who have much money, recognize the reality.

The principle statement supporting the implementation of Common Core, has always been that we need a better educated workforce to do tomorrow’s jobs….

Governor Markell said it in his state of the state address on the day the DOW fell 176 points….

This has been a reoccuring theme of his;  “the education of today will not bring us the jobs of tomorrow..”

Although that sounds good in soundbyte form, it is not grounded too well in reality.  In reality, the wages of jobs have declined as the demand for work rose to become greater than the supply.  In other words, unemployment is too high… and that suppresses the cost of labor.

When one’s boss can hire one cheaper to do the same job, that is not the best time to ask your boss for a raise…..

Today, our minimum wage is being paid to college graduates and high school graduates.  It used to be paid to those who were either still students, or never did  graduate….

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Image Courtesy of Economic Policy Institute

Today! Across the minimum workforce almost 5 out of every 10 have a college experience; and almost 8 out of 10 graduated high school or have a GED.

We are already educating our lowest level of workers far above what the job market requires… There are no jobs to be given to those who will soon emerge college or career ready (SAT score over 1550), unless they first fill in the minimum wage jobs these poor blokes working now, give up when they get bumped up into real jobs….

If you bump your newly trained graduates directly into those high paying jobs, then you will be freezing the current generation into these minimum wage level jobs at which they are currently stuck…

One cannot bootstrap a educational process into producing high quality job applicants, when there are no high quality jobs taking applications…

We already have a high quality educated work force; we call it our minimum wage crowd….

So Governor. What are you going to do?
As I see it here are your options….

You have to create an industry here in Delaware.  Here is one: wind power infrastructure and solar power grid efficiency. You just make it up and go after it, hoping it doesn’t implode like Fisker and Bloom…  The difference is that with Fisker and Bloom, you said “here is some money, do something”; you left it up to them.  With this, you get Federal funding and we go government control all the way involving public-private partnerships.  We have the land, we have the technical expertise, we have a scientifically educated work force; all we need are capital and someone to direct it.

Secondly, the government needs to create high labor-intensive industries.  Areas where humans will not be replaced by robotics. Health care comes to mind. Personal care of senior citizen in their homes, is another. Food inspection is a third. Why can’t we have a public-private enterprise here in Delaware which performs the FDA food inspections for the entire East Coast? Environmental inspection industries is a fourth avenue of opportunity; testing and verification, done by the state to insure compliance of air, water, and soil standards…

As one can tell, these require more taxes.  Those who have benefited from the bounce-back of the financial markets, should be the ones to carry the rest of us forward. That would be the 1%. There are two ways to fund our future growth… A) We can borrow and spread the cost over time by increasing our debt and pay it back later, or B) we can pay as we go by assessing more from those in real time, who can afford it without denting their lifestyle….  Being a fiscal conservative, I fall into taxing now, paying now, and keeping our debt levels low.(B)..  It makes too much sense to do it any other way….since we currently have an abundance of cash in the hands of the 1% from which to draw.

The point being made through all these wishful plans, is that employment in the private sector is now full.  It will not grow more jobs on its own. It is now required of government to prime the pump; we need it more than ever.  Most of those currently unemployed will need government jobs to get back to work.  There is much to be done to our infrastructure;  we have cut government for so long, that many things are close to being broken….

We have an educated work force ready and able.  It is our college and high school educated minimum wage earners.... We need to first give them the opportunity to move up into jobs for which they are qualified to do,.. in order to make them better citizens. Playing with education again and again to make more minimum wage workers who are overqualified, is not going to do anyone any good at all…  it is just circling money around where it is not needed.

(Below is the prepared text of the Governor’s State of the State for 2014. See if you can find the part which caused the Dow Jones to tumble.)

RED –Education

GREEN==Environment

ORANGE== Jobs

BLUE== Justice

VIOLET== Infrastructure

Lt. Gov. Denn, President Pro Tem Blevins, Speaker Schwartzkopf, members of the 147th General Assembly, other elected officials, members of the cabinet, members of the judiciary, Carla, the people of Delaware. Thank you for inviting me to address you today.

I know it wasn’t necessary but I just want to assure the members of the General Assembly that Secretary Bhatt was ready to personally plow each of your driveways to facilitate your travel here.

In all seriousness, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge our terrific state employees who day in and day out provide critical services to the citizens of our state. We all experienced the benefit of their work and commitment during the recent snow storms.

Our public safety, transportation, health care, facilities and other staff truly answered the call. We owe a continual debt of gratitude to our state employees for being there when their neighbors and fellow Delawareans need them.

Let me also thank the members of our military – our friends from the Dover Air Force Base, all Delawareans in the armed forces, and members of the Delaware National Guard. We had more members of the Guard deployed last year than ever.

Two of our Afghanistan veterans are with us today. I ask you to join me in thanking Capt. Brian Malloy and Chief Master Sergeant Kevin Gordon. Captain, Chief, please accept our appreciation for all that you and your colleagues have done for us.

This past year, one of Delaware’s own made the ultimate sacrifice. Warrant Officer Sean Mullen gave his life serving in Afghanistan. I ask that we all pause for a moment of silence to honor his memory.

Veterans like Capt. Malloy, Chief Gordon and Warrant Officer Mullen protect what makes America great. Our freedoms. Our liberty. And the promise that any child in America can grow up to be whatever they want to be.

That, of course, is the essence of the American dream. Everybody in this state wants a piece of it. That longing defines who we are as a people.

And while it isn’t our job to guarantee success for every Delawarean, it is our job to empower them to make their dreams real. Through several difficult years and this country’s worst recession in generations, we have made progress on securing that promise. The state of our state is stronger today than when I addressed you a year ago. Our job growth has outpaced the nation’s, highlighted by a thriving financial sector and technological innovation from companies large and small, whether it’s the parts manufactured at Miller Metal, the new pharmaceuticals developed at Incyte, the software made at SevOne, or the cutting-edge fuel cells made by Bloom Energy.

Our schools are implementing higher standards while, thanks to legislation passed by the General Assembly, we are better preparing our teachers. And the companies that will hire our students are dealing with fewer and clearer government regulations.

So, we’ve made progress, but to paraphrase Will Rogers, even if we’re on the right track, we’ll get run over if we just sit here. We have so much more to do.

If you have the right skills and live in the right communities, good-paying jobs are available. But for too many people, that’s not reality. Every Delawarean has something to contribute if given the chance. We need to make sure they have that chance.

As governor, I’ve made repeated visits to the Ferris School. The young men at Ferris often require intense rehabilitation. Four years ago, during a visit to a Ferris art class, a young man, whom I’ll call Brian, gave me a drawing he made. About a year later, a confident young man approached me at a Habitat for Humanity event. He delivered a firm handshake and asked if I remembered who he was. I couldn’t quite place him. “I’m Brian,” he said. “You met me at Ferris. I gave you the drawing. Look at me now.”

A bit stunned, I asked if he was working for Habitat for Humanity. He wasn’t. He was just volunteering in his free time while studying to be a nurse. And he was positively glowing.

I think about Brian whenever I see his drawing hanging in my office. It reminds me of the potential in every Delawarean. Unleashing that potential is one of the most important things we can do.

Unrealized potential has always been a human tragedy. Now, it is also an economic calamity. The premium in today’s economy is on the human factor – the creativity, talent, and drive in every one of us. A society that squanders the potential of its people is a society that lets its future slip away.

A bright future belongs to the states and nations that empower all of their citizens, transforming those who rely on government resources into contributors to our community. That bright future belongs to places where people like Brian get trained, find good jobs, and build better tomorrows.

That future will belong to us if we commit to unleash the potential in every Delawarean. How we do that is what I want to talk about today.

First and foremost, unleashing that potential requires that Delawareans have the opportunity to work.

Before the end of the decade, 60 percent of our jobs will require training beyond high school. And yet only 20 percent of our kids graduate from high school ready for college or a career. (translated SAT score over 1550.)

The path to middle-class security is not what it was 30 years ago. So, our approach to career preparation can’t be either.

Let’s ensure that all of our children are on a path to realizing their full potential – whether they choose to pursue a degree or take an accelerated career path.

First, we need to make sure that every Delaware student who can succeed in college gets off to a great start. Last week, I spoke at a White House event where 100 college presidents announced new commitments to expanding college access. Because of our commitment to be first in the nation working to expand college opportunities statewide, Delaware was the only state recognized.

Thanks to our partnership with the College Board, we are identifying students with the potential to thrive in college, but who would likely not apply, often because of financial concerns. They have received letters from some of the nation’s top colleges, including those from Delaware’s institutions, encouraging them to apply, waiving their application fees, and offering financial support.

They are students like Afoma Mbanefo of Christiana High School, who was born in Nigeria to parents who never dreamed of going to college. After receiving the information we sent, she applied and has been accepted to six institutions, including the honors program at the University of Delaware. Afoma is with us today. Congratulations!

We have 1,000 students in Delaware like Afoma who are capable of succeeding in college, but who do not attend. We can get that number to zero.

We know that students who are challenged in high school with college-level material often rise to the occasion. Studies show that when these students get a taste of college academics, they are twice as likely to enroll and persist to a second year in college.

I propose a scholarship program so that all low-income Delaware students with college potential can take credit-bearing courses during their senior year.

As we send more of our students into higher education, we need to make sure that they have a roadmap from the classroom to employment, and that our major employers are working with our universities so that our youth are prepared for the workforce. I’m pleased to announce today that DuPont has agreed to partner with our colleges on this effort.

They will work to identify skills needed for entry-level positions, match those skills with courses offered by our colleges, and provide internships. By completing identified courses and practical experiences, they will put students on a fast-track for opportunities, including full-time jobs.

We look forward to other employers joining DuPont on this initiative.

Let’s also ensure that those students who choose an accelerated career path – one that doesn’t involve a degree – get a head start on their futures.

This fall, we will roll out a new two-year comprehensive program in manufacturing technologies for high school juniors and seniors. The program will focus on mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering – and will lead to nationally recognized manufacturing certificates.

It’s modeled after a partnership between Delaware Tech and Red Clay which allows students to attend classes at their home school, while augmenting what they learn by providing access to manufacturing equipment at Delaware Tech.

To make our new program even more meaningful, it also must include real world experience. And that’s where a new public-private partnership comes into play.

The Delaware Manufacturing Association and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership are working with us to identify members willing to offer real world opportunities during the summer between junior and senior year. Whether it takes the form of hands-on work or job shadowing, direct exposure to the workplace is crucial. Several manufacturers already have answered this call to action, including Agilent, Siemens, PBF and PPG.

Matching skilled workers with available jobs is critical. Thanks to our new JobLink capability, it’s easier than ever for employers to search our database for employees with the skills they need.

In the last year, hundreds of employers have taken advantage of our new tools to find employees, and those inquiries led to hundreds of new hires at places such as Cabelas, Sitel and Grayling Industries.

All of our efforts will be most successful when Delaware businesses collaborate with Delaware educational institutions. So I propose creating a competitive grant program to fund public-private partnerships between employers and our schools and colleges that will develop the skills needed by tomorrow’s workforce.

Finally, too many working Delawareans struggle to care for their families and put food on the table. I am glad that the General Assembly is poised to increase the minimum wage. Thank you for helping so many hardworking Delawareans.

Our ability to put Delawareans to work depends in part on whether we build on our legacy of innovation. We have a rich history of invention in Delaware, and it’s time to write a new chapter. From the ashes of the old Chrysler plant is rising a new center of innovation that promises to do just that, the Science, Technology and Advanced Research campus.

The STAR campus represents the potential of university-based innovation to transform industries and spawn new companies. Academic research in Delaware contributed to the technologies that led to smartphones and tablets. Work done by Nobel Laureate and UD Professor Richard (What The?)Heck yielded chemical processes used in pharmaceuticals, energy, and electronics.

To encourage that kind of research, I ask that you invest in innovation by creating a $2 million matching grant program that will leverage federal dollars in support of research that will create the jobs of tomorrow.

One of the most promising areas for research that will have an impact on our economy is cybersecurity. From the financial information held by Delaware’s many banks to the technologies being developed by area science companies, our economy is only as secure as the networks that hold our personal data and intellectual property. As customers of Target and many other companies know, hacking and cyber attacks represent a huge threat.

Staying ahead of this challenge is something we and our employers need to do to protect our citizens and our customers, and it is good for our economy. Hundreds of unfilled jobs in this sector exist in Delaware today.

Our institutions of higher education are positioning themselves to take a leadership role in this area, and I am pleased to join with them to launch the Delaware Cyber Initiative.

Located on the STAR campus, this initiative will be a public-private partnership between the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Delaware Tech and the private sector. It will feature a collaborative learning and research network dedicated to cyber innovation, and I’m proud to say it will tap into the resources of the 166th Network Warfare Squadron of the Delaware National Guard.

Unleashing the potential of our economy also demands world-class infrastructure. The ability to move goods and services efficiently, connect to cutting-edge information technology infrastructure, and access cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable energy, is essential to every industry in our state.

For years, Delawareans tried to avoid the interchange of I-95 and Route 1. But our investment in new fly-over ramps has alleviated congestion, shortening commutes, shipping times, and trips to the beach.

We are making similar improvements at I-95 and 202. That exit ramp was a notorious chokepoint, but improvements have cut the average number of hours per day of slowing traffic from six to less than one.

DelDOT will soon begin construction on the long-awaited West Dover Connector. In Sussex County, DelDOT is widening SR 26. And across Delaware, new and improved bike paths are improving our quality of life.

Infrastructure investments create high-paying, middle-class jobs today and they lay the foundation for future prosperity. It’s time to stop complaining about the sorry shape of our Transportation Trust Fund and fix the underlying issues.

I propose that we invest $1.1 billion over five years, a $500 million increase over our current financial plan. Let’s improve our transportation network for generations to come and put thousands of Delawareans to work.

We need to invest beyond our road network.

As Speaker Schwartzkopf and Senator Simpson know full well, investment in our parks, wildlife areas, beaches and other recreational amenities help attract millions of tourists, who in turn spend hundreds of millions of dollars and support thousands of jobs at restaurants, hotels and retail shops across our state.

Look specifically at our waterways. Water is the foundation of our tourism industry. It’s vital to agriculture, manufacturing, and everything that we do.

Yet a century of pollution has impaired nearly every waterway in our state. While we have significantly reduced air pollution and cleaned up brownfields, far too many streams remain unsafe, as Senator Lopez keeps reminding us.

We can’t eat our fish from the St. Jones. We can’t swim in too many parts of the inland bays. The Christina and Brandywine rivers are laced with toxic pollutants.

This is embarrassing. This is unacceptable. We must change it.

This won’t be easy or cheap – but it is achievable. We must upgrade wastewater and drinking water plants and improve stormwater infrastructure. And we must use cutting-edge technologies to remove toxic substances, like we are doing right outside this building at Mirror Lake thanks to the strong advocacy of Senator Bushweller.

To work toward these goals, next month, I will propose the Clean Water for Delaware’s Future Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to clean up our waterways within a generation. Some much faster than that.

In our time, this will create jobs. In our kids’ time, we will revitalize communities across our state. We owe future generations clean water. It’s that simple.

We all agree that a quality education is essential for anyone seeking to unleash his or her potential – and this begins at a very early age. Teachers tell us that the number one barrier to academic success is when kids do not come to school ready to learn.

Six years ago, Senator Blevins set us on a path to improve the quality of our children’s early learning experiences, as prime sponsor of the legislation that created the Stars quality rating system in Delaware. The Stars program has provided the critical base for the investments we have made over the last several years.

We have made significant progress. Last year alone the number of low-income children attending a high quality program increased by 50 percent. That means 2,200 more children are getting better opportunities to be prepared for success in school.

I am grateful to Senator Blevins and all of the members of the General Assembly for your support of early childhood education opportunities for low-income Delawareans.

But our work on behalf of our most vulnerable children isn’t done. We can do more to support the national Nurse Family Partnership program, through which nurses visit first-time, low-income mothers, and teach them how to care for their newborns. The results around the country have been stunning, including better academic performance, less juvenile delinquency and better overall child health outcomes.

As our next step, I propose that we more than double the number of first-time mothers who are served in Delaware by this proven program. That would give us a higher percentage of eligible mothers who are benefiting from this program than in any other state in America.

I want to thank Lt. Governor Matt Denn for championing this proposal.

We are making significant strides in our schools, thanks to this General Assembly, including education chairs Senator Sokola and Representative Scott, and so many talented educators across our state.

The world language immersion programs you funded now have 850 students in ten schools spending half of their school days learning in either Chinese or Spanish. Parents of those students have been thrilled with the results, telling us these programs have enriched their children’s education.

Our professional learning communities and implementation of higher standards are producing positive results. Two-thirds of our educators say their improved professional development is having a positive impact in their classrooms.

We are particularly focused on supporting our teachers of science, technology, engineering and math. Many jobs of the future will be in these STEM fields. But we have trouble recruiting and retaining talented STEM teachers who have more lucrative options.

Today I’m delighted to announce that this fall the Delaware STEM Council, in partnership with Ashland, will be giving awards to support our best STEM teachers, so they can share effective teaching strategies.

The magic of education happens with our teachers. It doesn’t happen in Legislative Hall or in my office. But if you look at the way we fund education, you would think politicians have all the answers.

State government sets rigid funding formulas that determine how many assistant principals, reading instructors, and administrative assistants a school will have. In fact, we have one of the most rigid funding systems in the country. This leaves little room for school leaders – those who know our students best – to innovate, create a vision, and pursue it.

It is time to give those school leaders more flexibility to make a difference in our kids’ education.

Starting in a handful of districts, I propose that we give school leaders the ability to spend some portion of their state resources in implementing their own school improvement plans. We should track their choices, measure the results, and see how we can best provide greater flexibility to more schools.

I thank Representative Heffernan for taking the lead on this issue.

Unleashing every student’s potential also demands that we make it more attractive for our best teachers to continue doing what they love – teaching. Since last year, my administration has been listening to educators about how we might set up a compensation system that attracts and retains great teachers.

Our best teachers deserve a path to receive additional compensation for pursuing leadership opportunities while remaining in the classroom.

We also must recognize that our starting salaries are not competitive with our neighbors.

I want to thank the Delaware State Education Association and the teachers who are working with us on an improved approach to educator compensation. We are pleased with the progress we’ve made, but there is still work to do and I hope we will be in a position to introduce legislation this spring.

Much of our success as a state will depend upon whether our cities are safe and vibrant.

We know revitalizing neighborhoods is an important part of making our streets safer. We can replicate the success other communities have had in strengthening neighborhoods, while also harnessing the attraction that vibrant downtowns hold for talented young people and innovative small businesses.

To do so, I propose we create “Downtown Development Districts” – a small number of designated areas in our cities that will qualify for development incentives and a host of other benefits in housing and transportation. Builders looking to make investments in these Districts would receive grants for a percentage of their investment.

I propose dedicating $7 million toward these kinds of projects, which will leverage tens of millions of dollars in private capital. And more importantly, this program can improve our housing stock and revitalize our downtowns.

Making our downtowns more vibrant and safer must start with Wilmington. Wilmington is the business capital of the state and our cultural center, yet violent crime has engulfed neighborhoods and taken many lives. When people do not feel safe in their communities, little else matters.

There is no quick fix. Mayor Williams has a significant task ahead of him. But it will take all of us doing our part – all levels of government, neighborhood leaders, faith communities, businesses – all of us. The Delaware State Police, Secretary Schiliro, Attorney General Biden, New Castle County Executive Gordon, and others all stand ready to help address the crime problems in Wilmington and beyond.

Far too often, gun violence is committed by shooters who cannot legally own guns, so it is critical that we do a better job tracing these weapons back to their sources. We must redouble our efforts to confront the gun-trafficking that is escalating the gang wars.

To do so, I am proposing a new division of special investigations within the Department of Safety and Homeland Security that will focus on gun-trafficking.

At the same time, we must place as much focus on addressing the causes of crime. Much crime is committed by people with substance abuse problems. Seventy-one percent of men arrested in 10 U.S. cities in 2011 tested positive for an illegal substance.

Too often, our solution is to simply throw the drug user in prison, but many of these individuals need treatment more than a prison guard.

For many addicts, it’s possible to deal with their disease successfully and go on to live happy, productive lives. There are stories like the young man recovering from a life-threatening addiction to heroin and becoming a business owner.

Or a teenage girl who lapsed into drug and alcohol use following her father’s suicide and landed in jail, but with assistance of a drug court program overcame her addiction and got a college education.

We all know people with addictions who, with the right intervention, could live fulfilling lives. It’s time for us to put into practice what we already know: addiction is a disease. It can and must be treated.

Representatives Keeley, Barbieri and Mulrooney along with Senators Henry and Hall Long, together with Secretary Landgraf and my wife, Carla, are reviewing the addiction treatment needs in our state and the resources available to meet those needs.

Later this year, I will propose changes that better align our resources to fill the gaps in our drug treatment system and I look forward to working with you to fill these gaps.

We cannot meet the potential of our great state and our great country if we give up on a great number of our people. Today, America incarcerates more than 2 million people, and each year we release more than 700,000 inmates. 25 years ago, the total number of people incarcerated was 700,000.

For released inmates, their criminal record makes it difficult to be productive members of society.

There are those who belong behind bars and it is worth every penny we spend to keep them there. But when a person has served their time, it’s up to them – and to us – to make sure they transition effectively, achieve their potential and contribute to society.

In 2009, with the leadership of Secretary McMahon and Director Ben Addi, we began our I-ADAPT initiative to help offenders prepare for their eventual release by giving them some of what they need to return to our communities: identification, access to medical care, a transition plan, job training opportunities.

Five years of experience has taught us that those little things make a big difference. But for many offenders there is one thing we can’t give them – a driver’s license. Many offenders guilty of drug offenses are denied a driver’s license – regardless of whether their crime had anything to do with a car. This penalty is just one more punishment that prevents them from seeking employment and accessing job training.

This should change. I ask you to eliminate the arbitrary loss of a drivers’ license for crimes that have nothing to do with automobiles.

Too many of the inmates we release end up going back to prison. One of the best predictors of whether a person will commit another crime is whether they have a job. If we know employing ex-offenders helps make our communities safer, why are we putting so many hurdles in the way of job opportunities for ex-offenders?

We need to start by looking at employment discrimination against people who have repaid their debt to society. Here is an example: If there is one employer in Delaware that should be able to decide whether hiring an ex-offender makes sense, it’s the Department of Correction. But the Department is prohibited from hiring anyone with a felony record, even on a part-time basis.

As Representative J.J. Johnson has suggested, we can do better.

Many communities have started to “ban the box” on job applications by eliminating the box that says “check here if you’ve been convicted of a crime.” I believe we should ban the box for state government hires this year.

Let’s stop denying ex-offenders their first interview. Let’s be a model for the private sector, because marginalizing ex-offenders helps none of us.

Delaware’s incarceration rate is higher than the national average in a country whose average is higher than the rest of the world’s. That’s not a point of pride, it’s incredibly expensive, and it hasn’t worked.

We lock up too many people for not making bail and not appearing at hearings. Forty percent of the women incarcerated at Baylor are pre-trial detainees, many charged with nonviolent offenses.

Based on guidance from Commissioner Coupe, I propose that we pilot, in the city of Wilmington, a program of pre-trial community supervision for nonviolent offenders. Based on a model from New York, this pilot program will allow the Department of Correction and social service providers to help get offenders to hearings and avoid trouble while awaiting trial.

By supervising some offenders, we can keep them out of prison in the first place and link them with services to address addictions or mental health concerns in the community, and not a prison cell.

In addition to filling our prisons with pre-trial detainees, we also impose longer sentences than other states do. One reason is that we are the only state in the country that forces our judges, without exception, to impose consecutive rather than concurrent sentences for multiple offenses.

That hasn’t made us any safer and contributes to overcrowding in our prisons. I ask you to join me in giving judges greater discretion when it comes to concurrent and consecutive sentencing.

Lastly, we need to change the trajectory of kids who enter the criminal justice system at a young age.

Many of these kids are bright and full of potential. And, after living in a facility with structure, education, and medical care, they have the same goals and determination as any of our kids.

But here is the reality. As well as those kids do while they are in a secure facility, when they leave our care, they often return to the same exact circumstances that led them to us in the first place, only now they are returning with the burden of a juvenile record. Many of them won’t complete their education.

Of 184 kids in custody at our Faulkland Road campus last year, only 11 were back in traditional schools six months later. Many kids drop out, are expelled or are re-incarcerated. This is our failure. We have seen the progress many of them make while under our care and we must do better when they transition away from our facilities.

I am asking you to fund community-based advocates to work with these families and kids after they leave the custody of the Kids Department. A 15-year-old doesn’t know how to access mental health services, re-enroll in school, and get on a path to success. These advocates can make that happen.

We also need to break the cycle of incarceration by getting these kids back into school. I am asking Secretary Ranji to lead a task force focused on how to get these children into an educational environment that is sensitive to their unique challenges and experiences.

One of my favorite parts about being governor is that I get to meet Delawareans from every walk of life. The budding entrepreneur. The ex-con trying to get back on his feet. The first-generation college student. The third-generation farmer. The excited new mother. The hopeful immigrant.

And you know what? We all really want the same thing. We want to give life our very best shot. We want to make the most of the talents God has given us.

Much has been written in recent months about inequality in America. About a lack of economic mobility, declining incomes for working families, and a shrinking middle class. About a lack of opportunity for people born into difficult circumstances or who make a poor decision early in life.

The very promise of America – the essence of the American dream – is that while we are not guaranteed equal outcomes, we are guaranteed equal opportunities to achieve our potential.

That’s why in recent years, we have focused so much on strengthening our schools, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing our quality of life.

That’s why, with the help of Representative Melanie Smith and Senator Greg Lavelle, we passed the Justice Reinvestment Act to rehabilitate and not just incarcerate.

That’s why we passed new laws to make it clear that Delaware is a welcoming state no matter whom you love.

We do all of this because of our core value – our shared belief – that we all stand to gain when everyone gets a fair shot.

Isn’t that why we’re here?

Years from now – after the roads have been built; after today’s kindergartners have retired from jobs we helped create; after our cities thrive and our waters run clean; the people of Delaware may not remember us by name or know about the laws we passed or the bills we debated.

But in the end, that’s not what’s important. What they will know is that we were here for them and that our focus was to unleash the potential of every Delawarean now and help ensure that future generations will be able to go further than we could ever have dreamed.

I know we have the resolve to do our part to realize the promise of our great state of Delaware.

Thank you. God bless you and all the people of Delaware!

RED –Education

GREEN==Environment

ORANGE== Jobs

BLUE== Justice

VIOLET== Infrastructure

(Btw the headline was exactly how Allan Loudell read off the news at 4:00; I laughed out loud.)