Final legislative and policy agenda seeks to leverage skilled workforce, high quality of life to create new opportunities for Delawareans
Dover, DE – In his final State of the State speech, Delaware Governor Jack Markell today proposed an agenda that positions Delaware to leverage its highly trained citizens and welcoming business climate to build opportunities for sustained job creation in an ever-changing economy.
“It is our responsibility to provide Delawareans with the bridge to the life they want — workforce training for people who want to upgrade their skills; education that aligns with the knowledge they need in the new economy; affordable and high quality health care, safe communities, and more responsive government that supports their drive to succeed,” Markell said. “We have a lot more to do and new adversities to conquer. But our progress demonstrates that we are up to the challenge.”
“When I first stood before you, we faced a collapsing national economy and a growing deficit at a time of rapidly increasing demand for public services. As a result of the recession, more than five percent of Delaware’s jobs vanished. So we all got to work, improving our business climate and making difficult decisions to balance our budgets just as many Delawareans have had to do for their own. And we’ve done so while protecting the most vulnerable among us.”
“When we reflect on the challenges we have faced, we can be proud that even in the wake of the great recession, we did not settle for a return to the status quo.”
The Governor noted Delaware’s substantial progress over the past seven years:
Recently, the Governor’s office issued a series of one-page fact sheets that outline progress that has been achieved during the past seven years on a range of areas. Read those fact sheets HERE.
“Today, the state of our state is stronger than it has been in years.”
Markell urged lawmakers and other leaders to support several program, policy, and legislative initiatives that build upon the state’s progress and meet the shared expectation that more can be done to move the state forward.
BUILDING ON DELAWARE’S PROGRESS BY EXPECTING MORE
SPEECH EXCERPTS AND PROPOSALS
Growing Delaware’s economy by increasing access to job training
Last year, Markell announced the Delaware Promise, a partnership among the General Assembly, business community, and Delaware schools and colleges, to help ensure that 65 percent of our workforce will earn a college degree or professional certificate by 2025. Today he celebrated the progress of this initiative and announced its expansion.
“We help grow our economy by improving access to better education and training. Even as employment in our state has reached historic highs, we confront the odd reality that Delaware employers are hiring, but can’t find enough qualified applicants.”
Building a more affordable and welcoming place to do business
“Our strong workforce is the most important reason employers locate and expand in our state. But we also know that our employers and entrepreneurs expect Delaware to be an affordable, welcoming place to do business.”
Sustaining responsible state finances
“Because of the work we have done over the last seven years, we are still one of a handful of states with a AAA credit rating. We have reduced headcount in executive branch agencies by nearly 5 percent, saved millions by changing the way we purchase energy, and renegotiated real estate leases. The biggest challenge we face is the sharply accelerating cost of health care.”
Investing in quality education
“We have no better example of how higher expectations – along with significant additional resources, support, and innovation – have resulted in extraordinary progress than in our schools. Over the past several years, our students, families, teachers, and staff have set and reached loftier goals in almost every possible way. And the more we have asked, the more they have achieved, like record high graduation rates – improving faster than any other state – while earning some of the nation’s best test scores in the early grades.”
“As much as any other state, Delaware has committed to our youngest learners.”
Protecting public safety supporting reentry through common-sense criminal justice reforms
“More than 600 inmates are serving mandatory extended sentences because of Delaware’s habitual offender law. Today, a person can receive a mandatory life sentence solely for drug offenses, without any conviction for an act of physical violence. The cost to taxpayers of these automatic sentences and of keeping habitual offenders behind bars for decades is enormous.”
“One way we must make strides towards a more equal society is by ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to build a better life. Many of our licensing and certification requirements are well-founded, however, some requirements may no longer be necessary and instead prevent many from pursuing professions in which they would thrive, particularly low-income individuals.”
Increasing access to safe and effective contraception
“Delaware has one of the highest unplanned pregnancy rates in the country – 57 percent. When people become parents accidentally, we know the outcomes for them and their children, may be diminished. There are new methods that are much more effective than the pill – methods preferred by OB-GYNs and endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control – but here in Delaware our healthcare system doesn’t make it easy to choose these new methods.”
“We have increased access to substance use treatments by as much as 100 percent, and we’ve made it easier for law enforcement, as well as friends and family, to help victims before it’s too late. These efforts are saving lives. I ask for your continued support in building on our progress.”
The full remarks of Governor Markell’s 2016 State of the State address are posted at: http://governor.delaware.gov/speeches/2016StateOfTheState/SOTS_2016.pdf
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