State Auditor Kathy McGuiness: Delaware Could See $43 Million Annually from Regulating, Taxing Marijuana for Adult Use

DOVER, DELAWARE – State Auditor Kathy McGuiness released a report today showing that Delaware could realize more than $43 million in annual tax revenue from the regulation and taxation of legal marijuana.

In a new special report titled “Millions in Revenue Anticipated from Legalizing Marijuana in Delaware,” McGuiness said that regulating the sale of marijuana for adult use would also allow for new business formation and the creation of more than 1,000 new jobs over five years.

“Forty-three million dollars in state tax revenue would be a boon to Delaware’s coffers,” McGuiness said. “That money could be used to plug budget holes in the short term and would continue to provide revenue for all kinds of important initiatives in the long term.”

The special report uses publicly available data to determine that legalizing marijuana use for adults 21 and older would create a $215 million industry in the state. It assumes a reasonable 20 percent excise tax to reach the $43 million figure.

“Statistics show that public opinion on allowing recreational marijuana for adult use has changed dramatically in the last few years, with a majority of Delawareans now supporting it,” McGuiness said. “The prohibition on marijuana has only led to a robust black market, which could be minimized by responsible and thoughtful legalization.”

The report also examines other states’ current or proposed regulatory frameworks for taxing the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana.

“With neighboring states either legalizing it or considering doing so, taking action now is the only way to prevent Delaware from being at a competitive disadvantage in the future,” McGuiness said. “The First State cannot and should not be the last state to approve legalization in the region.”

The new special report can be located on the Auditor’s Office website found here.

Contact: Alaina Sewell, Executive Assistant, Alaina.Sewell@delaware.gov, 302-857-3931

Learn about the Delaware Auditor’s Office at https://auditor.delaware.gov.

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State Auditor Kathy McGuiness Releases Review of State’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard

DOVER, DELAWARE – Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness today published a special report titled Delaware’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard Opportunities and Successes: How Well Does Delaware’s Data Tool Allow for an Accurate and Timely Response to the Pandemic, which focuses on the state’s approach to collecting and reporting on coronavirus case data in the early stages of the pandemic.

The report utilizes information obtained on the state’s websites, specifically its data dashboard – used to publish coronavirus case data to determine how Delaware’s approach to virus mitigation compares to best practices and tools promoted by other states.

“Ensuring Delaware is making decisions and developing its virus response on sound, quality data is vital to our success in keeping the public safe and spending resources appropriately, said McGuiness. This report is meant to commend the state in areas where it’s doing well and shine a light on opportunities for improvement.”

The report addresses 15 essential indicators that a group led by former CDC Director, Dr. Frieden regarded as necessary for success that served as the benchmark. Although the report concentrates on the state’s initial response to control the virus, it also acknowledges the improvements made to collect and report information over time.

“Our hope is that the state will consider our recommendations to enhance internal controls, communications, and monitoring to improve even further because this fight is not over and no state should have to be an island,” said McGuiness. “Collaboration is key.”

A copy of the report can be found here: https://auditor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2020/12/COVID-SPECIAL-REPORT-12-2.pdf

Contact: Alaina Sewell, Executive Assistant, Alaina.Sewell@delaware.gov, 302-857-3931

Learn about the Delaware Auditor’s Office at https://auditor.delaware.gov

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State Auditor Kathy McGuiness Unveils Delaware CARES Act Fund Tracker

DOVER, DELAWARE – Today, Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness unveiled the Delaware CARES Act Fund Tracker.

In March 2020, the federal government passed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, its purpose was to provide fast and direct economic assistance for American workers, families, and small businesses and to preserve jobs for American industries.

“Transparency is key,” McGuiness said. “This Dashboard provides Delawareans with an opportunity to see where their monies are being spent.”

The CARES Act established the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, which provided payments to State, Local, and Tribal governments. Delaware’s share of CARES Act funding totaled $927,233,331. New Castle County received $322,766,669. Governments have until December 30, 2020, to distribute the funds.

The Dashboard is located on the State Auditor’s website at https://auditor.delaware.gov/fundtracker/ and is updated every Monday.

Contact: Alaina Sewell, Executive Assistant, Alaina.Sewell@delaware.gov302-857-3931

Learn about the Delaware Auditor’s Office at https://auditor.delaware.gov

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State Auditor Kathy McGuiness Releases Delaware Volunteer Fire Service Special Report

DOVER, DELAWARE – Today, Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness released the Delaware Volunteer Fire Service Special Report. This year, the Auditor’s Office estimated that the Delaware volunteer fire service saved the state taxpayers over $244 million for fiscal year ending June 30, 2020.

The volunteer fire service has a long-standing and proud tradition in the State of Delaware. Volunteer firefighters devote a great deal of time and personal sacrifice — they are the backbone of the operation of a 2020 volunteer fire company, providing social, community, and financial value. For over 200 years, these volunteer fire companies have been a part of the fabric of Delaware communities.

“These volunteers not only sacrifice their time and energy, but they also saved the state taxpayers more of more than $244 million this past fiscal year,” said State Auditor McGuiness. “Volunteer first responders save lives and my special report recognizes their value while ensuring transparency to the Delaware taxpayer.”

This year, Delaware’s volunteer fire service is dealing with a pandemic posing several challenges for first responders. Volunteer firefighters and emergency personnel face a high likelihood of exposure to the virus, in addition to the monetary losses of holding fundraisers and events.

“First responders are on the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic,” said McGuiness. “We should not only give them the recognition they deserve, but also give our support to upholding the longevity of the volunteer fire service in Delaware.”

I recommend Congress pass additional stimulus funds that includes funding to state and local governments. The new stimulus should prioritize firefighters who are on the frontlines of this virus to make sure they have the appropriate supplies, personal protective equipment, and funding to continue providing these necessary services to the public. In the immediate term, the Governor should allocate CARES Act funding to these volunteer companies to ensure their current needs are satisfied. Lawmakers should also create a fund independent of Grant-in-Aid to extend the longevity of the volunteer fire service in Delaware.

Learn about the Delaware Auditor’s Office at https://auditor.delaware.gov.

Click here to download the report: https://auditor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2020/11/FINAL-FIRE-FY-2020.pdf

Contact: Alaina Sewell, Executive Assistant, Alaina.Sewell@delaware.gov302-857-3931

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State Auditor Kathy McGuiness and Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro Partner for a Fraud Town Hall

DOVER, DELAWARE – Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness and Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro together will host a virtual Fraud Town Hall via Facebook live on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 beginning at 3:00 pm.

The Auditor’s Office and the Department of Insurance want to jointly raise awareness of the types of fraud schemes both agencies regularly encounter and ways consumers can protect themselves from becoming victims.

“Over the past several months, we’ve seen an increase in fraud complaints brought on by the coronavirus pandemic,” said State Auditor Kathy McGuiness. “Our responsibility as a watchdog is to ensure proper safeguards and internal controls are in place to combat it.”

“As the largest consumer protection office in the state, the Department of Insurance reviews more than 525 fraud referrals a year, filing 531 civil and 15 criminal cases last year,” said Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro. “With new technologies entering the insurance and healthcare arena, and Open Enrollment for Medicare and the Affordable Care Act taking place in the coming months, it is more important than ever that we work together to detect, prevent, and respond to fraud.”

Delawareans are understandably fearful of the repercussions from the health and economic crisis and rightfully want to know what their elected officials are doing to protect them from fraud and scams. The Fraud Town Hall will provide them answers.

Watch live at FB.me/DeTv302.

Learn about the Delaware Auditor’s Office and Department of Insurance online at https://auditor.delaware.gov and https://insurance.delaware.gov/.

Contact: Alaina Sewell, Executive Assistant, Alaina.Sewell@delaware.gov, 302-857-3931