Briggs King, Rappa tackle issues for survey in 37th District race

The 37th Representative District is in the Georgetown area.
Ruth Briggs King, Republican
Office seeking: State representative 37th District
Age: 60
Occupation: Vice president, human resources
Family: Husband Stanley King (40 years), two adult sons and their families: Jared and Noelle King with Gabriella (8), Colin (5) and Ryan (2), Justin and Amber King with twins Alexis and Victoria 5 months.
Elective experience: Elected in a special election 2009

Paulette Rappa, Democrat
Office seeking: State representative (district 37)
Age: 54
Occupation: Educator
Family: Married 16 years, eight children
Elective experience: None

1. What would be your top priority in this office?

Briggs King: My top priority would be to serve the needs and concerns of the 37th District rather than any personal or special interest groups. I would continue to seek legislation or other efforts that provide for the economic growth of business and individuals, promote public safety at home, work, school or on our highways, and continue my efforts to make progress on special situations such as flooding and dredging needs, broad band expansion and access, agriculture and manufactured housing needs are properly addressed in Dover.

Rappa: My top priority is twofold: save lives that are being lost to heroin or drug addictions and help our seniors enjoy a quality of life by improving medical resources, transportation systems and providing affordable housing, especially with issues connecting to manufactured housing.

Ruth Briggs King

Ruth Briggs King

2. If you could change one state policy or law, what would it be?

Briggs King: Ensure that state laws are followed during the budgeting process to eliminate the use of restricted fees and taxes for other purposes and to ensure that “one time revenue or onetime expenses were not allowed to balance or inflate the budget. Fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer.

Rappa: Equal protection of the law and modifying Chapter 70 — the law governing homes on leased land.

3. Do you support raising the minimum wage?

Briggs King: I do not support an artificial or mandated increase of the minimum wage. Studies have proven that increases to the minimum wage reduce job growth and affect the unskilled and young worker. Unfortunately, many jobs in this area are service related and those jobs are usually the first to go! I support earned income tax credits that actually help the lower wage earner and other employer incentives.

Paulette Rappa

Paulette Rappa

Rappa: I would support raising minimum wage, but I also support limiting regulations for small businesses so that the raise in minimum wage does not hinder a small business’s operational budget.

4. How can the state best create jobs?

Briggs King: The state cannot create jobs, but it can create a business climate to support job growth, business expansion and business creation. Delaware needs to be competitive to attract and retain business. Unfortunately, Delaware has a reputation for being costly for business to operate here: the regional greenhouse gas initiative has resulted in high-energy costs for Delaware and lack of right-to-work law or zones, limited broadband width and access in Sussex County and other regulatory barriers are often prohibitive to business. A streamlined approval process for the myriad of regulations and permits as well as review of tax and fee structure would generate additional job opportunities. Finally, business will locate where there is a safe environment and quality schools to support their workforce.

Rappa: The state could best create jobs by supporting business to grow, providing educational opportunities to train individuals to master 21st century skill sets and to provide incentives to attract more companies to operate in Delaware.

5. Would you vote for legislation reinstating the death penalty?

Briggs King: Yes. I believe the death penalty is an appropriate sentence in certain heinous acts of murder. The death sentence is the ultimate penalty for a person who had so little regard for life that they intentionally took another life. We cannot minimize or forget the victim who had no choice of “life or death.”

Rappa: I will vote the will of the people.

6. Should the state make changes to its laws on marijuana?

Briggs King: No. Current federal law is the ultimate authority over marijuana. The problems with contradicting state and federal law is very evident in states that have attempted to “legalize” the illegal possession and distribution of marijuana. Too many issues make any additional changes to law a risky business on many levels.

Rappa: The state should thoroughly research the unintended consequences of legalizing marijuana before it considers changing any laws.

7. Should the state lower the tax rates on the casinos, do nothing or take some other step to provide relief?

Briggs King: I support their ability to operate like other businesses in Delaware. The casinos are a business in Delaware, yet unlike other businesses, they encounter greater scrutiny and tax liability than other business. In many instances, the state makes more off the casino business than the casinos.

Rappa: Until the state no longer requires the casinos to contribute up to forty percent of their revenue back to the state, then the state has an obligation to provide aid to the casinos.

8. What changes would you make to the Department of Education?

Briggs King: I would reorganize the Department of Education and eliminate the redundant bureaucracy to ensure more dollars reach the classroom. Since the adoption of Common Core and other National Initiatives, the Centralized Department of Education should be minimal.

Rappa: The formula to fund our schools is outdated. We need a new analysis to restructure that. We also need to coordinate services or consolidate services between districts to structure a more cohesive system. Our teachers still need support to develop professional learning communities where best practices and the current teaching models can be explored with the very individuals that know what really goes on in our classrooms. Too much money is spent at the top of the administration and not enough money is dedicated to attract the best teachers to meet the needs of our children. Teachers still remain our most valuable resource for improving the education of our children.

9. Does the state spend too much, too little or the right amount?

Briggs King: State spending is a mixed bag of special interests rather than a strategic plan to ensure equity and priorities are in alignment. The budgeting process needs to be consistent with best business practices. The state spends too much on some issues, too little on other issues and continually “switch funds and funding” to balance the bottom line. The budget has outgrown the cost of living increases. Taxpayers cannot afford the continued spending pattern without sustainable revenue streams.

Rappa: The budget has grown reflective of an increase in population and an increase in costs. What needs to be considered is how the money is spent. Until there is a clear account of how the money is spent per each regulatory agency plus operational costs, it is difficult to determine how much is too much or how little is too little.

10. What should be done, if anything, to increase revenue for the state or cut spending?

Briggs King: Elimination of the estate tax (death tax) would reduce the loss of significant income from Delaware to other states such as Florida. We should re-align tax structures and fees to keep Delaware competitive to spur businesses to actually do business and not merely incorporate in Delaware. We can also revisit the escheat law and practices that are going to result in net losses. The budget relies on one time money, which is a risky and poor practice. Another step would be to evaluate the state and county expenses and allocation of funds for public needs

Rappa: One way the state could determine spending is to have rotating zero-based budgets per department to really evaluate if the tax dollars are getting a return on its investment. Raising revenue by increasing taxes or fees is not sustainable.

11. Do changes need to be made in the state’s employee health care structure?

Briggs King: Yes, we need to address the escalating cost of the employee health plan in Delaware. Delaware has a very costly plan and high claims for a small state. Employee awareness and commitment to understand the actual cost and reduce the cost are essential to maintain benefits. State “benefits” is the reason many workers chose public over private employment since the wage rates and total compensation are often less. We need to have viable options and incentives to reduce the cost. It is not sustainable in the end. I would rather reduce cost than eliminate or reduce staffing.

Rappa: I would need to examine the structure more carefully before determining that.

12. What should be done to impact the state’s heroin crisis?

Briggs King: First, we need total commitment that the heroin crisis is an epidemic in Delaware. It affects virtually everyone. Escalated crime results in escalated cost for business and individuals. Develop a strategy, communicate the plan, fund the plan and evaluate the effectiveness that will best serve and protect the public. We must plan for the battle to win the war on heroin. We need programs that offer sustained rehabilitation and treatment and programs that intervene on behalf of families that need assistance. We need to continue revamping the reason for the addiction, which is directly related to prescribed opiates or other narcotics, ensure adequate providers and seek to eliminate addiction, not simply exchange the dependency.

Rappa: Clearly incarcerating people is not stemming the pandemic of heroin. More treatment programs and facilities must be developed throughout the state to provide a more stable approach for the addicted and their families. We must have the political will to fund such initiatives and programs. This investment of dollars is well spent because lives will be saved and the state, but especially local communities, will be able to build up real resilience and thrive.

13. How can the state best continue to fund road and bridge projects?

Briggs King: Address the misuse of the transportation fund, reexamine how we fund roads and consider alternative transportation options. Additionally, we could stop “cosmetic” improvements and allocate those dollars toward meaningful projects.

Rappa: The state can best continue to fund road and bridge projects by respecting the lock box put on the transportation fund. Clearly the fund has eroded over time because of the consistent practice of withdrawing funds from it. Introducing such initiatives as the Transportation Improvement Plans would also coordinate money from local counties and companies to help supplement the costs.

14. Anything else?

Briggs King: The legislature is in session 44 days a year. The real work of a legislator occurs out of session and out of Dover. It requires an understanding of how things work in order to make the best decisions to make things work for the people. Sometimes it takes day to solve a problem and sometimes it takes much longer to see the results. I focus on achieving results and do not lose sight of the people that I am pleased to serve. I hope that I am re-elected to continue the “work in progress” as well as additional needs.

Rappa: No.

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