Paradee offers views on 29th District issues

29th Representative District

The 29th Representative District serves the Cheswold area.

W. Charles “Trey” Paradee, Democrat

Office seeking: State representative, 29th District

Age: 47

Occupation: Small business owner

Family: Daughter Cassie, son Charlie

Elective experience: Elected 2012, re-elected 2014

Jan Gallagher, Republican

Did not return survey

Ruth Ann James, Green

Did not return survey

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

Paradee: Delaware’s unemployment rate is currently 4.5 percent, which is one of the lowest in our country. However, there are many Delaware families struggling to make ends meet. We need to do a better job attracting higher paying jobs to Delaware. To do this, we must continue to reform regulations and remove barriers that make it difficult to open a business or move a business to Delaware. The cost of energy is one of the most important issues for manufacturing companies that might consider building facilities in Delaware. I have been a champion for reducing electric rates in Delaware. For example, I led the Delaware General Assembly’s fight against the federal cost sharing allocation for the Artificial Island powerline project, which would have unfairly burdened Delaware businesses and families with higher electric rates. People who live in my district know that I am a fighter. I show up to public hearings and speak out loudly when something affects the quality of life in the 29th District. I address problems, and I take government agencies to task when they are wrong or make mistakes. I get results. I intend to continue this same level of service if I am re-elected.

Rep. Trey Paradee

Rep. Trey Paradee

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

Paradee: We need to change the way we fund our public education system. The plurality of Delawareans (myself included) appreciates and supports the referendum process that Delaware has used for many years. It is the only tax that you, as an individual, are able to vote upon. However, we have created a system of have and have-nots, and the referendum process has devolved into a political endeavor complete with yard signs, call centers and mailers. Meanwhile, some school districts that deal with a higher number of English second language students and children who face challenges brought upon by poverty do not have adequate resources. This problem needs to be addressed by the next administration, with the help of parents, educators and administrators, to find a way to provide adequate resources to our most challenged students while maintaining some of the local control that we have grown to enjoy through the referendum process.

3. Do you support raising the minimum wage?

Paradee: Yes. I supported the legislation that would have incrementally increased the minimum wage to $10.25 by 2020, which unfortunately did not pass. If re-elected, I will support efforts to re-introduce that legislation. Every dollar that is put into the pockets of low wage earners is immediately spent, which creates a positive ripple effect throughout our economy.

4. How can the state best create jobs?

Paradee: The popular answer for politicians trying to garner votes is “cut taxes!” But it’s not that easy. Year after year, Delaware is named the state with the lowest overall tax burden in the nation by numerous respected publications. So, if it was truly that easy, our economy should be booming — but it’s not. There are four things we should be doing. First, we need to make Delaware more attractive to businesses looking to relocate by continuing to reform regulations. Second, we need to lower the cost of energy by encouraging the construction of more power generating facilities on the Delmarva Peninsula that are clean and efficient. Third, we need to invest more in infrastructure, like roads and bridges, so that businesses can move their products to market more efficiently. Fourth, we need to invest in our work force by supporting job training programs like those offered by DelTech.

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

Paradee: Yes, but we need to take a long hard look at how it is applied. I believe that it should only be applied in the most egregious of circumstances and only when overwhelming, indisputable evidence is available. It is also essential that we address some of the concerns that have been raised regarding racial bias and make changes where necessary. As a society, we cannot tolerate racial bias if it exists at any point during the process from arrest to sentencing. Changing the sentence does not necessarily fix the process or eradicate racial bias.

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

Paradee: I will support the legalization of marijuana if it is taxed and highly regulated and if the proceeds are used to support education, improve drug treatment programs, and combat the heroin epidemic that is destroying our communities. Anyone who is inclined to smoke marijuana can already obtain it. It is cheap and abundant. It is also far less destructive than alcohol. Marijuana prohibition clogs up our court system and jails, diverts police resources away from violent crimes and creates more crime and blood in our streets. States like Colorado and Washington that have legalized marijuana have seen crime levels and drunk driving deaths decrease while reaping tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue that is funding new schools and programs that benefit the youth.

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

Paradee: I believe the share that the state takes from the casinos should be returned to the pre-recession levels of 2008. We are in jeopardy of driving Dover Downs out of business, which would be catastrophic to our local economy.

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

Paradee: We need to clean house. We need to reduce the number of positions and return more control to the local school boards.

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

Paradee: We should always be looking for ways to cut costs and make government more efficient.

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

Paradee: Programs like Medicaid and other entitlement programs currently account for more than a third of the state’s budget. I am currently serving on the Means-Tested Entitlements Task Force, along with other members of the General Assembly and the heads of several state agencies. It is important that we continue to take care of those in our society who truly deserve our help, but we are going to need to get serious about reducing costs and cleaning up some of the waste, fraud and abuse that has plagued some of these programs.

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

Paradee: I am reluctant to support any changes to the state’s employee health care structure. However, state employees and retirees, like everyone else, need to understand that inflation takes its toll. The cost of a gallon of milk in 1985 was $2.25 per gallon. Today, it is $3.50. No one can expect co-pays to remain the same in perpetuity. It is not sustainable. So, as the years ago by, state workers and retirees will need to absorb some higher costs in order to keep the plan solvent. However, the state cannot shirk its responsibility to take care of those who chose to take a lower-paying job with the state in exchange for better benefits later in life.

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

Paradee: We can start by supporting our police departments by giving them the manpower and resources they need to combat this problem. We need to be tough on the traffickers and offer more help and treatment for the users. Clogging up our courts and jails with users will not solve the problem and is a poor use of resources. We also need to do a better job of educating our youth on the perils of heroin addiction, and we need to bring back important after-school activities and sports programs that have slowly vanished over the years. The best way to keep kids off of drugs is to give them something to do.

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

Paradee: I will not support an increase in the gas tax just because the gas tax rates of Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have all increased over the past year and are now 11.5 cents to 27.4 cents higher than ours. There must be specific needs and projects on the table that will benefit Delawareans, but, being an elected official means that sometimes you have to put your big boy (or girl) pants on and make tough, sometimes unpopular, decisions. At some point, we will need to revisit the gas tax. Delaware’s gas tax was last increased in 1996. Today, there are roughly 100,000 more vehicles on Delaware’s roads, yet the amount of tax collected each year has not increased. Why? Because today’s vehicles are far more energy efficient than they were 30 years ago. So, in terms of actual dollars, the average Delawarean is spending much less in gas taxes each year than they were 30 years ago. Meanwhile, the cost of labor, asphalt, steel, concrete and everything else that is needed to maintain our roads and bridges has increased dramatically with inflation. Any sensible person can look at this and realize that it is an unsustainable model that will need to be changed at some point.

14. Anything else?

Paradee: No.

Note: These have been lightly edited.

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