Governor’s Weekly Message: Investing in a Strong Future for Delaware

Dover, DE – In his weekly message, Governor Markell unveiled a Fiscal Year 2017 state budget that invests in stronger schools and workforce training, innovation and infrastructure to spur economic growth, better health and a high quality of life.

“This past week I introduced a balanced budget that builds on our core values, most importantly making economic opportunity available for all Delawareans,” said Governor Markell. “I look forward to another year when we challenge ourselves to make our state stronger than ever – and to keep Delaware moving forward.”

Every week, the Governor’s office releases a new Weekly Message in video, audio, and transcript form. The message is available on:

YouTube: https://youtu.be/itaNvHpSz0s
Delaware.Gov: http://governor.delaware.gov/podcast_video.shtml
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Transcript of the Governor’s Weekly Message: Investing in a Strong Future for Delaware


AG Denn, Community Leaders, Issue Renewed Call For Use Of Bank Settlement Funds To Address Issues In Delaware’s Hardest Hit Neighborhoods

Proposal for Joint Finance Committee to consider when it meets in January. 

Attorney General Matt Denn outlines a revised proposal using the remaining $29-million from financial settlements with Bank of America and Citigroup, designed to address housing, crime, recidivism, substance abuse and education in some of Delaware’s most economically distressed and crime-stricken communities.
Attorney General Matt Denn outlines a revised proposal using the remaining $29-million from financial settlements with Bank of America and Citigroup, designed to address housing, crime, recidivism, substance abuse and education in some of Delaware’s most economically distressed and crime-stricken communities.

Backed by community leaders and advocates for economically hard hit communities, Attorney General Matt Denn has renewed and revised his proposal to utilize funds from financial crisis settlement to be used for crime prevention, housing, substance abuse treatment, after school and summer school programs, prisoner reentry and education in those areas.

The proposal is a renewal of the Attorney General’s “Lifting Up Delaware’s Communities” program, announced in January 2015,  for using settlement funds that Delaware had received from Bank of America and Citigroup to resolve allegations of market misconduct by financial institutions that contributed to the national financial crash.

The amount of funds now available is approximately $29 million, rather than the original $36 million available a year ago. $5 million was used by the General Assembly in June 2015 to balance the state budget, and another $2 million was set aside in December by agreement between the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee and the Department of Justice to expand policing in high-crime areas of Dover and Wilmington. JFC is expected to deliberate over additional uses of the funds in January.

“Our proposal in January, and our proposal today, is that these funds be used to help lift up our state’s hardest hit communities.  That is what is called for by the settlement agreement, and speaking for a moment as an elected official whose top priority is fighting violent crime, investing in these communities is also what we should be doing if we really want to bring down the rate of violent crime,” Attorney General Denn said. “

The renewed Lifting Up Delaware’s Communities is similar to that unveiled in January, with some dollar amounts reduced to reflect the smaller amount of funds available, and with two changes to reflect valuable input that was received from the community and legislators after the initial proposal was made.

The proposal was backed at Wednesday’s event by representatives of atTAcK Addiction, Stop The Violence Prayer Chain, the Wilmington HOPE Commission, New Castle County Police, Red Clay Education Association, Safe United Neighborhoods, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, and New Castle County Councilman Jea Street.

“This funding would mean the world to students,” said Monique Taylor-Gibbs, a teacher in Wilmington’s Warner Elementary School. “These funds would mean after school programs, it would mean more adequate bodies in the classroom, it would allow us to have smaller class sizes, it would allow the students to be able to stay in school until 6:00 p.m. and then just go home and do homework and go to bed.”

The Lifting Up Delaware’s Communities proposal now consists of :

Investing in People and Neighborhoods ($10.7 Million)

  • Substance Abuse Treatment.  $3 million over three years should be spent on providing drug treatment opportunities for inmates with substance abuse disorder who are either nearing release from prison or have just been released from prison.
  • Prison Re-Entry Programs.  $3 million over three years should be spent on competitive grants to non-profit organizations that assist inmates being released from correctional facilities to avoid new criminal offenses.
  • Community Policing and Community Support.  $4.7 million should be allocated to the state’s Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund, which can make grants for a broad array of government and non-profit efforts to support economically impacted neighborhoods.

Providing Affordable Housing and Development in Economically Impacted Areas ($10.5 million)

  • Foreclosure Prevention.  $1.5 million should be directed to the Delaware Mortgage Assistance Program to help Delaware homeowners prevent foreclosures on their primary properties.
  • Home Purchase Opportunities for Foreclosure Victims.  $4 million should go to the Downtown Development Districts program, to be used for the purpose of providing down payment assistance to homeowners willing to purchase homes in Downtown Development Districts.  Down payment grants should be means-tested, and first priority would be given to persons and families who lost their homes to foreclosure between 2008 and the present.
  • Affordable Housing.  $5 million should go to the Delaware State Housing Authority’s Strong Neighborhoods Revolving Housing Fund, which is dedicated to the creation of affordable housing in economically impacted areas.

Providing Help to Low-Income Children ($7.8 million)

  • Support for High Poverty Elementary Schools. We are proposing to dedicate $4.8 million to providing $100,000 per year for three years to each of the state’s 16 highest-poverty elementary schools, to allow them to hire additional teachers or paraprofessionals to work with the students from low-income areas who attend school there every day.
  • After School and Summer Programs.  $3 million over three years should be spent on after-school and summer programs targeted at students who live in low-income areas of the state.

“When it comes to sentencing those who have broken the law, we have to ask, do we wish to punish, or do we wish to rehabilitate,” said David Hume of atTAcK Addiction. “It is estimated, the costs of $36,000 to incarcerate, while the cost of treatment is $6,000. To rehabilitate and prevent recidivism, we need the $3-million that the Attorney General has earmarked for drug treatment opportunities for those currently incarcerated, as well as programs to insure those about to be released have a plan to move forward in their lives.”

Colonel Elmer Setting, Chief of the New Castle County Police Department, echoed the sentiments of atTAcK Addiction, and said arresting users isn’t the answer, suggesting if we educate and rehabilitate, we will be a better country, a better state, and a better city.

The Citi and BOA settlement funds are held by the Attorney General’s Office and can be spent by agreement of the Attorney General and the Joint Finance Committee if the JFC indicates it does not intend to take the funds from the settlement account and allocate them as part of the budget process. Attorney General Denn continues to believe the settlement funds should not be used by the legislature to plug budget holes.


Governor’s Statement on Secretary Duncan Stepping Down

Wilmington, DE – Governor Markell issued the following statement in reaction to today’s news that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will leave his position in December:

“Secretary Duncan stepped into his role at a challenging time, when our changing economy means that the level of education and training our young people receive, from pre-school through postsecondary programs, is more important than ever,” said Governor Markell. “He recognized that we must improve the resources available for our schools to do their jobs, while doing more to hold our system accountable for serving all students.

“As a country we can be grateful that he never shied away from this hard but necessary work. As a Governor, I particularly appreciate his focus on challenging states to find new ways to increase opportunities for students, while providing unprecedented opportunities for us to implement innovative solutions through initiatives like Race to the Top and the Early Learning Challenge. His determination to get more of our youngest kids the opportunities they deserve raised awareness about the importance of high quality early childhood programs and raised expectations for what should be available to kids from communities that have long been underserved.

“During numerous visits to Delaware, Secretary Duncan showed a commitment to seeking out what’s working and what needs to be improved in our schools, and Delaware students are better off for his efforts. I thank him for his service and wish him and his family well in whatever comes next.”

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Delaware Division of the Arts Grant Applications for FY2016 are Now Available at www.artsdel.org/grants

DDOA logoThe Delaware Division of the Arts has opened its online application process for Delaware-based arts organizations, community organizations, and schools to apply for funding of arts programming and projects taking place during Fiscal Year 2016.

While some organizational grants are available throughout the year on a rolling deadline basis, others have an annual application deadline of March 1 (March 2 in 2015, due to March 1 falling on a Sunday).

“We always advise prospective applicants to contact the Division staff before submitting an application, especially for the first time,” said Paul Weagraff, Division Director. “Staff members can help an applicant determine which grant program is the best fit for their planned project, and can also answer questions about the application and review process.” A list of Division staff members, including their responsibilities and contact information, is available at www.artsdel.org/contact.

Below is a list of the Division’s grants programs. Please visit www.artsdel.org/grants to access the full guidelines for each program and a description of the grant review process.

Grants Open to Delaware Arts Organizations:
General Operating Support – supports annual operating expenses to ensure that year-round participation in the arts is available to the people of Delaware. Applications are reviewed on a three-year cycle for eligible applicants. Due March 2, 2015.
Arts Stabilization – supports improvements to facilities owned and operated (or under long-term lease) by arts organizations. Up to $20,000. Due March 2, 2015.
Education Resource – supports proposals that strengthen public school-based arts education projects, programs, and activities that utilize the arts education resources of the Delaware arts community. Up to $20,000. Due March 2, 2015.
StartUp – supports programming, and develops and strengthens the management capacity of emerging arts organizations. Up to $2,500 plus training. Due March 2, 2015.

Grants Open to Delaware Community-Based Organizations:
(Delaware non-profit organizations and government entities that present arts programming or activities but do not have the arts as their primary mission)
Project Support – supports arts programs that assist in the growth of a vibrant cultural environment by encouraging the continued development of arts activities in communities throughout the state. Due March 2, 2015.
Opportunity Grants – supports the presentation of performing, visual, literary, media, or folk arts in communities throughout the state. Up to $1,000. Rolling deadline.

Grants Open to Delaware Schools and School Districts:
Education Resource – supports proposals that strengthen public school-based arts education projects, programs, and activities that utilize the arts education resources of the Delaware arts community. Up to $20,000. Due March 2, 2015.
Artist Residency – supports in-school residencies with visual, literary, performing or media artists working with students in the classroom or in professional development workshops with teachers. Rolling deadline.

Grants Open to Delaware Individual Artists:
Individual Artist Fellowships – support Delaware creative artists working in the visual, performing, media, folk, and literary arts. Fellowships are designed to enable recipients to purchase equipment and materials, allocate working time, or fulfill other needs that will allow them to advance in their careers. Application will open in late spring 2015. Due August 3, 2015.
Opportunity Grants – support individual artists with unique professional and artistic development or presentation opportunities. Up to $750. Rolling deadline.

The Delaware Division of the Arts is an agency of the State of Delaware. Together with its advisory body, the Delaware State Arts Council, the Division administers grants and programs that support artists and arts organizations, educate the public, increase awareness of the arts, and integrate the arts into all facets of Delaware life. Funding for Division programs is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware State Legislature, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.


Lt. Governor Unveils Website for Teachers

Professional Development Videos Provide Information on Working with Children with Special Needs

WILMINGTON, Del. – Today, Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn unveiled a new website – www.frontoftheclassDE.com – full of videos created by teachers, for teachers, that focus on educating children with special needs.

Watch Lt. Governor Denn share his idea for this project here: http://de.gov/frontofclass

Some of the organizations that will promote the website and share with their members are the Delaware Autism Program, Delaware Parent Teacher Association, Delaware State Board of Education, Delaware State Education Association, and the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens.

A full list of acknowledgements for all of those that generously volunteered their time for this project in on the website, but the Lt. Governor wants to extend special thanks to Dr. Vince Winterling and the Delaware Autism Program, Dr. Laura Dewey of Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital, Dom Squittiere and Corey Bowen of Red Clay Consolidated School District, The Centreville Layton School and The Pilot School. Additionally, thanks to Catherine Miller and Ann Calamia of HNH Multimedia Productions for their work in bringing this year-long project to life.