In politics, as in all things in life, balance is key.
When you work and have a family, if one or the other is not in balance, you will have issues with your job, or with your children, or with your relationships. If your wheels are out of balance on your car, you will have premature tire wear and an uncomfortable ride. If your checkbook is out of balance, you will not know whether you are in good financial shape, or if you are near the breaking point. And so it is with politics in Delaware.
For some 36 of the last 57 years, our state government was split between Democrats and Republicans. The longest streak of a cooperative government was from 1976-2006, where the Democratic Party held solid control of the Senate, the House of Representatives stayed mostly Republican, and the governorship changed from Republican to Democrat.
Some of those years brought the greatest acts of cooperation and sweeping changes to Delaware’s laws and policies that have ever taken place. Some of those policies, such as the Coastal Zone Act and the Financial Center Development Act (all enacted in a split Legislature), brought decades of prosperity to families up and down the state, from Greenville to Gumboro.
As you can see, balance is good for government. Balance allows both parties to come together, to bring forth proposals and policy suggestions, and allows for the best of those to become the laws and policies of the state. Without balance, a singular group of voices with a singular agenda is allowed to steer the direction of the government.
Although brief periods of one-party control over our state government have happened innocuously from time to time, sustained control by one party leads to policy decisions that aren’t in the best interests of the people of Delaware. Such has been the case for the past eight years.
Since 2008, Delaware state government has been solidly controlled by the Democratic Party. For much of that time, discussions around policy simply did not have to take place between parties. The majority had enough votes to pass any bill, amend any law, and raise any taxes on the people of Delaware. With that complete control, one would expect Delaware to have become a paradise (if you were to listen to Democrat rhetoric).
Why is it, then, that Delaware is in such poor shape? Why are we dealing with another budget deficit in the hundreds of millions of dollars? Why is it that we have more people enrolled in Medicaid than ever before? And why is it that Delaware has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation? It’s simple. Because our state is not in balance.
Good ideas from the minority party have been ignored for years. Bills have been left to die in committees that could have helped to turn our state around. But because they did not fit in the majority agenda, the bills never got out of committee. All the while, policy decisions were made and laws were passed that did not have the best interest of all Delawareans in mind.
We have a chance to regain some semblance of balance on Saturday. The voters of the 10th Senate District will choose between keeping full Democrat control of state government, or restoring balance to Delaware. These voters have been inundated with phone calls, visits and mail. The majority is so desperate to keep absolute control that they have reverted to scare tactics to draw out their base. They have been painting a Republican majority in the Senate as one that would hurt families, or destroy unions. Or dismantle our educational system. Or even cause Washington-style gridlock in Dover. These tactics are absurd, yet, not unexpected.
Remember earlier when I referenced both sides coming together in a split government to pass the best-of-the-best legislation? That is precisely what would happen if the Republicans took the majority. For example, with a Democratic governor and House of Representatives, changes to Delaware law that would be hurtful to unions would not pass the General Assembly.
But what would happen is compromises would be struck that would reform some of the rigid laws and regulations that keep businesses from opening and expanding in Delaware. This would allow families to have gainful employment — during both construction and operation of those businesses. This would force a true discussion on issues such as substance abuse treatment and prevention, sentencing reform in our criminal justice system, and accountability from our state agencies to the people that they serve.
Electing John Marino would end the imbalance in our state government that has impeded growth and prosperity for the better part of a decade.
If you live in the 10th Senatorial District, I urge you to exercise your right on Saturday and vote to restore balance to our state government.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown) represents the 19th District in the Delaware Senate. District 19 includes Bridgeville, Georgetown and the unincorporated Long Neck area, and portions of Millsboro and Seaford.
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