DOVER — Some notes and quotes between headlines and deadlines…
Tax increases and spending cuts have been hot topics in the past week around state government circles as Gov. John Carney and legislators try to figure out a projected $380 million budget shortfall.
On Thursday, Gov. Carney revealed his “shared sacrifice” spending plan.
The details of the plan, if you missed the coverage in Friday’s edition, was covered extensively in reporter Matt Bittle’s story. It can read online at www.DelawareStateNews.net.
Comments on the plan, certainly, are welcome in the section below the story. Or, please send a letter to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For working Delawareans, all would be affected by the personal income tax proposal. Gov. Carney’s plan calls for 0.2 to 0.4 percent increases in the state’s seven tax brackets. The proposal also eliminates itemized deductions. Standard deductions for individuals and couples would be doubled.
Another increase that may lead to some stress is a move to take some of the property tax breaks for seniors.
At Wednesday’s Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce legislative luncheon, Gov. Carney warned that few people would be happy with the budget he released.
But, he noted that his town hall talks in recent weeks led him to believe increased taxes might be something Delawareans can stomach.
“I heard loud and clear that people are willing to pay a little bit more if they feel like the government and those of it running it on their behalf are doing so with a commitment to using taxpayer dollars as efficiently and effectively as we can,” he said.
One of the statistics Gov. Carney mentioned during his presentation this week was a reduction in state government jobs.
He said 800 had gone unfilled in the last eight years. He is proposing 200 current vacant spots not be filled.
Question for our readers, and those in state government who wish to share, what has been the impact? Have you noticed a difference in services?
Lisa Hastings, a partner of Faw Casson accounting firm in Dover, posed an interesting question to the state lawmakers in attendance at the chamber’s luncheon.
“Is there something in the tax arena that you think we should be exploring?”
The personal income tax in Delaware could use some rethinking, said Rep. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, and Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover,
The top tax bracket includes anyone making more than $60,000 — the same rate for someone making close to that or someone making $500,000 or more per year. The current rate is 6.6 percent and 6.8 percent would be the new rate under Gov. Carney’s plan.
“The $60,000 is very low,” he said.
Rep. Jeff Spiegelman, R-Clayton, said one interesting fee idea he heard recently was another state that suggested a tax on fuel-efficient automobiles as a way to contend with declining revenues from fuel taxes.
The notion, he said, was that “fuel-efficient automobiles damage the roads just as much as non-fuel efficient automobiles, but they pay significantly less at the pump in gas taxes.”
“I’m not sure that would work here,” he said.
In Minnesota, there was a proposal that electric car owners would have to pay a $75-85 fee since they’re not contributing to the gas tax.
Most recently, Ohio was in the news for this. One of the lawmakers there suggested that in lieu of the gas tax, motorists might pay $140 a year for license plates. The Ohio Senate rejected the idea, but kept the 28-cent-per-gallon gas tax but plans to ask for voter approval to increase plate fees by $5 to support road funds.
According to the Sierra Club, 10 states have implemented annual fees on electric and electric-hybrid vehicles that vary from $50 to $300 per year.
So, following up on the tax question, what do you think the state should consider?
Reach editor Andrew West at email@example.com