Governor’s Weekly Message: A Message of Thanks to the People of Delaware

Dover, DE – In his final weekly message, Governor Markell expresses his gratitude for the opportunity to serve the state. Speaking to the people of Delaware, he reflects on how far we have come since the state was hit by the Great Recession, recognizing the thousands of Delawareans who have contributed to tremendous progress.

“You have constantly inspired me with determination, ingenuity, love, and commitment, and we can be proud that together, we have made our state more beautiful, more productive, more prosperous, and more inclusive than ever before,” said Governor Markell. “Serving as your Governor has been the honor of my life, and I will never forget the kindness and generosity you have shown me and my family in times good and challenging. Thank you for all you do for our state and each other, and for your commitment to keep Delaware moving forward.”

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Transcript of the Governor’s Weekly Message: A Message of Thanks to the People of Delaware

Governor’s Weekly Message Transcript: A Message of Thanks to the People of Delaware

As my time in office ends, I am so thankful for the opportunity to have served our state and the people of Delaware. We have come so far together – from the depths of the Great Recession to the best job growth in the region, while strengthening our schools, protecting our environment, and creating more opportunity for people of all backgrounds.

The best part of this job is traveling the state to meet with thousands of you: entrepreneurs taking chances on new ideas, workers supporting their families while going back to school to get a better job, farmers expanding to new markets, and people overcoming adversity, whether it be a layoff, overwhelming debt, or substance abuse to build a better life. You have constantly inspired me with determination, ingenuity, love, and commitment, and we can be proud that together, we have made our state more beautiful, more productive, more prosperous, and more inclusive than ever before. That includes 60,000 jobs created, helping us earn recognition as one of the top three state economies because of the talents of our business people and workforce. Our tireless educators have led efforts resulting in record high graduation rates, and more students well-prepared for their next steps. Our communities have given opportunities to people previously denied them, including ex-offenders who have served their time. We have improved our quality of life by supporting expanded pathways and trails and cleaner air, as well as libraries and the arts. We have opened our hearts and laws to protect and support people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community.

Serving as your Governor has been the honor of my life, and I will never forget the kindness and generosity you have shown me and my family in times good and challenging. Thank you for all you do for our state and each other, and for your commitment to keep Delaware moving forward.

Governor Markell Presents Final Recommended Budget

Keeps core commitments to supporting job growth education, public safety and healthcare while maintaining fiscal responsibility in challenging budget

Dover, DE – Governor Jack Markell today unveiled a balanced Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal that promotes increased job and educational opportunities for Delawareans, while maintaining fiscal responsibility that has repeatedly earned the state a AAA rating. The budget appropriates 98 percent of available revenues and sustains a fully funded Rainy Day Fund while upholding the Governor’s core commitments to schools, public safety and healthcare, and focusing on maintaining the work that has led to the State’s ranking as the third strongest economy in the country.

“The budgets we have enacted during the past eight years have been critical to supporting the strongest job growth in the region, great educational opportunities from early childhood through college for thousands more students, and a higher quality of life for all Delawareans,” said Governor Markell.

“This proposal shows that we can continue to invest in our progress, while still addressing the serious challenges that have resulted from unsustainable budget growth in a few areas and revenue sources that don’t increase when the economy improves. There is no sugarcoating that hard decisions are needed to make our budget sustainable and responsible over the long-term, but if we continue to focus on the investments that have the greatest impact on the current and future prosperity of all Delawareans, our state will thrive for years to come.”

As detailed below, the Governor’s budget recommendations would continue to strengthen Delaware schools, which have seen record-high graduation rates, a dramatic increase in access to high-quality early childhood programs, and tremendous growth in students earning college credits, industry credentials, and workplace experience before they graduate. The proposal also builds on successful economic development efforts, including the Downtown Development District program, which has leveraged $17 million in public funds into $330 million in private investments, and quality of life initiatives, while promoting other key priorities.

While keeping these commitments to Delawareans, the budget uses a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases to address the systemic challenges that have resulted in a $350 million shortfall. That deficit is based on the most recent revenue estimates for Fiscal Year 2018 and cost drivers that are increasing the size of the budget, including programs supported last year with one-time special fund resources.

“Our state’s encouraging economic growth has meant solid revenue growth in areas like personal income tax, but, unfortunately, much of our revenue portfolio is not tied to the economy’s performance,” said Secretary of Finance Tom Cook. “The revenue changes we propose adhere closely to the recommendations of the recent bipartisan revenue task force which established a blueprint for reshaping state revenues to better grow with the economy.”

Keeping Commitments to Strengthening Public Schools

The budget proposes an increase in public education funding, including: $28.4 million for 333 new teacher units to meet the demands of increased enrollment in public schools and $9.2 million for salary step increases for employees in Public Education.

The budget also continues the State’s commitment to provide access to quality early learning programs. The Governor proposes $8.0 million in additional funding for Early Childhood initiatives. These funds will be allocated for growth in 3, 4 and 5 Star-rated programs entering or progressing in the Delaware Stars program. These initiatives have resulted in an increase from five to 70 percent of low-income children attending high-quality programs.

The Governor has proposed $7.5 million to support recommendations of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission to improve opportunities for underserved Wilmington students. Funding would provide additional resources to address the needs of low-income students in the Red Clay and Christina School Districts, including English Language Learners (ELL), and establish a Wilmington Redistricting Fund to support continued transition and implementation of a plan to give Wilmington residents the ability to better engage in their schools.

Spurring Economic Development and Improving Quality of Life

The Governor’s budget continues efforts to invest in economic development that creates jobs for Delawareans. The recommended budget includes:

  • $8.5 million to promote economic activity in designated Downtown Development Districts. Established in Fiscal Year 2015, this program strengthens and enhances downtown areas by subsidizing rehabilitation and construction up to 20 percent of the total project cost. Currently, eight downtowns have been designated to receive funding: Wilmington, Smyrna, Dover, Harrington, Milford, Georgetown, Seaford and Laurel.
  • $10.0 million for the Delaware Strategic Fund to provide targeted financial assistance to businesses.
  • $15.0 million for infrastructure improvements at the Port of Wilmington.
  • $2.9 million for the Riverfront Development Corporation.
  • $2.5 million to the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals. This will focus on bringing safe drugs to market faster and creating quality jobs for the citizens of Delaware.
  • $1.5 million for the Fraunhofer Center for Molecular Biotechnology (CMB) Vaccine Development. This funding is intended to create high-tech, high-impact jobs, spin-off businesses, new partnerships and alliances, and enable CMB to leverage its unique technologies in the biotech marketplace.
  • $1.0 million for the Bioscience Center for Advanced Technology. The Center fosters academic industry research partnerships to support local bioscience businesses and help Delaware recruit, retain and create science-based jobs.

Improving Quality of Life

The Governor’s budget continues efforts to improve the quality of life in Delaware’s communities. The recommended budget includes:

  • $9.6 million for the Housing Development Fund which is utilized to create and improve affordable rental housing stock and increase economic activity.
  • $5.8 million for libraries including Duck Creek, Selbyville, Route 9/13, Harrington and Millsboro. Since Fiscal Year 2010, $44.6 million has been dedicated to library construction and the state has invested in the library system over the past eight years more than during any previous administration.
  • $4.8 million for redevelopment of strategic sites at NVF in Yorklyn and Fort DuPont in Delaware City.
  • $2.5 million to continue the Governor’s efforts to improve quality of life through statewide trails and pathways, a network of which has increased by more than 50 miles during his term.

Ensuring Public Safety

The Governor’s budget also makes important investments in the area of public safety, which include:

  •  Continued upgrades of the 800 MHz public safety communications system, with $6.4 million allocated in the Recommended Capital Budget to support an upgrade of the infrastructure to the national P-25 interoperability standard, while also replacing transmitters, microwave and older end-user portable and mobile radio equipment.
  • Initial funding of $12.8 million for the construction of a new Troop 7 in Lewes.

Continued Commitment to Fighting Addiction Epidemic

The Fiscal Year 2018 Recommended Budget allocates $2.0 million of additional funding for the treatment of substance use disorders, including the creation of an Assertive Community Treatment team, expanded day services and for additional sober living beds.

Sustaining Responsible State Finances with Mix of Revenue Increases and Spending Reductions

“This balanced plan takes key steps toward structurally resolving the budget deficit not only for Fiscal Year 2018, but also by better positioning Delaware for the future,” said Governor Markell

To close a $350 million shortfall and put the state on a path to sustainable budgets in the long-term, the proposal includes some increases in personal income tax by limiting deductions and raising the rate of the top tax bracket by 0.2 percent. In addition, the Governor recommends an adjustment to the corporate franchise tax, increasing the State assessment on realty transfer tax, and an increase in the cigarette tax. Details can be found in the administration’s budget presentation and total a $212 million increase for the coming fiscal year.

Spending reductions include measures to address the unsustainable growth of state employee health benefits and property tax subsidies, both areas Governor Markell has stressed in previous budget proposals that the State can no longer afford to fund at the same rate as in the past, given skyrocketing health care costs and major increases in use of the property tax subsidy.

To improve the long-term viability of state employee health care plans, while ensuring state workers have access to high quality care, the recommendations include a new plan for all employees hired on or after January 1, 2008; implementation of deductibles for all plans (some currently have none); elimination of the health insurance premium preference for two state employees who are married (Double State Share); and elimination of the contribution inequity for pensioners on the Special Medicfill prescription plan.

More information is available in the administration’s budget presentation slides.

Final Budget Totals

The Governor has recommended a balanced plan, which includes a combination of expenditure reductions and additional revenues. The proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Recommended Operating Budget totals $4,128.4 million. The proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Recommended Bond and Capital Improvements Act totals $555.3 million and includes $270.5 million in state agency capital projects and $284.7 million in Transportation projects. The Governor also set aside $30.0 million for Grants-in-Aid.

A power point of the proposal is available online:

Gov. Markell recognizes leadership, service of Delaware agriculture leaders

DOVER — Governor Jack A. Markell has recognized and thanked many of Delaware’s farming and agricultural leaders as his administration comes to a close, including the awarding of the Order of the First State to two noted public servants.

Bob Garey, a Felton-area farmer who chairs the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation, and Bill Vanderwende, a Bridgeville-area farmer who chairs the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission, were both recently surprised with the Order of the First State, the highest honor a Delaware governor can bestow for meritorious service to the First State. Both men have served since the creation of the Foundation and the Commission, and are noted for their leadership and commitment to advancing agriculture.

“I am proud and pleased to know Bob Garey and Bill Vanderwende and to call them friends. Their courage and hard work have led to improvements in agriculture and to a better quality of life for residents in the First State,” Gov. Markell said. “They have been dedicated to moving Delaware forward.”

Gov. Markell and Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee have also recently presented tributes from the Markell Administration to the members of the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation; the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission; the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission; and the Delaware Harness Racing Commission. Together, they help promote, strengthen and regulate important sectors of Delaware’s agricultural industry, made up of 2,400 family farms with an $8 billion economic impact.

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Dan Shortridge
Director of Communications & Marketing
Delaware Department of Agriculture

Delaware awarded $1.95 million to improve career education

JPMorgan Chase and CCSSO select Delaware as recipient of New Skills for Youth grant to improve education and training for high-skill, well-paying careers

Dover, DE – Today, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced Delaware as one of 10 states to receive a $2 million grant to strengthen and expand career pathways for the state’s youth and adults.

These state grants, which will be distributed over the next three years, are part of the $75 million, five-year New Skills for Youth initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase, in collaboration with CCSSO and Advance CTE. This initiative is aimed at strengthening career-focused education starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees and credentials aligned with high-skill jobs.

“In Delaware this year, nearly 6,000 students in 38 of 44 public high schools are enrolled in state-model pathway programs aligned to areas of high demand in Delaware’s economy,” Governor Jack Markell said. “This grant will support initiatives like this that are critical to preparing all students for success after high school. In the process, we will come closer to achieving our Delaware Promise, which is that by 2025 the percentage of Delawareans with a college degree or professional certificate will match the percentage of our jobs that will require one – 65 percent.”

The Delaware Pathways to Prosperity initiative supports the development of regional career pathways that accelerate academic and technical instruction, are responsive to labor-market demand, and engage employers. These innovative pathways are now being scaled across the state in high-demand industry sectors such as: finance, health care, culinary and hospitality management, computer science and networking, manufacturing logistics and production, and science and engineering. Each pathway offers high school students the opportunity to earn an industry-recognized credential, early college credit, and relevant work experience. These career pathways will be in place in all school districts in the state by the 2017-18 school year and there are currently 38 of 44 high schools participating.

“By earning industry-recognized credentials and college credits while in high school, our students graduate prepared for success,” said Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky. “This grant supports the alignment of our education and workforce systems.”

Delaware has received the New Skills for Youth grant after a rigorous review process, which included examination of Delaware’s plan to transform how the state designs and develops career preparedness education programs. The grant will support Delaware’s continued efforts to:

  • Build a comprehensive system of career preparation that aligns with the state and regional economies;
  • Scale and sustain meaningful work-based learning experiences for students in grades 7-14 by establishing a statewide workforce intermediary to place students into meaningful work experiences and support employers to recruit and onboard student talent;
  • Integrate education and workforce development efforts and data systems by establishing a direct link between education and training programs and changes in state and regional employment, as well as by creating a connected service model for students with disabilities and at-risk youth;
  • Coordinate financial support for Delaware Pathways by establishing a diversified funding model that includes public, private, and philanthropic support; and
  • Engage employers, educators, and community organizations to support Delaware Pathways by developing a robust communication and partnership strategy to coordinate services and activities across the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

The Delaware Pathways initiative is led by a steering committee, established by Governor Markell and chaired by Dr. Mark Brainard, President of Delaware Technical Community College. The steering committee includes representatives from the Delaware Department of Education, Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Economic Development Office, Delaware Department of Health & Social Services, the Delaware State Board of Education, United Way of Delaware, Rodel Foundation of Delaware, Delaware Manufacturers Association, Easter Seals of Delaware, Local School District Representatives, and area employers such as Delmarva Power, Invista, and the law offices of Young Conaway, Stargatt, & Taylor.

“We believe strongly in the need for greater workforce experience for Delaware students, and DBREC is proud to partner with other Delaware Pathways partners in moving this work forward,” said Ernie Dianastasis, chair of the Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee.

In March 2016, JPMorgan Chase and CCSSO awarded Delaware a $100,000 grant as part of the first phase of the New Skills for Youth initiative for planning and early implementation of long-term career readiness education programs that align with the needs of Delaware employers. In total, 24 states and the District of Columbia received Phase I grants.

The grant awarded today represents the second phase of the New Skills for Youth initiative, which provides 10 of the original 24 recipients with funding to execute the career-readiness plans they developed during the first phase.

“We are pleased to invest in training programs here in Delaware that provide young people with the career skills they need to succeed,” said Marge Hannum, managing director, JPMorgan Chase. “These programs provide opportunities to individuals as well as growing industries.”

This new grant is the latest support for Delaware’s comprehensive strategy that includes collaboration among public and private partners across the state.

In recent months, Delaware has received $6.3 million in public and private support to expand career readiness programs and postsecondary opportunities for youth and adults. This includes a $3.5 million dollar grant to the Delaware Technical Community College as part of the U.S Department of Labor’s America’s Promise grant program, a $800,000 dollar grant to the Delaware Department of Labor as part of the ApprenticeshipUSA state expansion program, and, now, a $1.95 million dollar grant to the Delaware Department of Education as part of the New Skills for Youth initiative. These grant opportunities broaden the types of education and training programs available to Delaware youth and create additional opportunities for youth and adults to engage Delaware employers, earn industry certifications, and complete apprenticeship programs and/or two- and four-year degrees.

“These are exciting times as these recent awards enable us to continue aligning Delaware’s Workforce program efforts, such as the Apprenticeship and Training and the Delaware Pathways initiative, to provide opportunities to youth and adults and help meet some very critical needs of Delaware employers.” Labor Secretary Patrice Gilliam-Johnson said.

“And this is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” she added. “Pathways, for example, engages candidates on an individual level and seeks to combine work experience with instructional training as a way to help ensure success. We’re expecting big things to come.”