LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Delaware Expenditure Review Committee just ‘insider whitewash’

The creation of the Delaware Expenditure Review Committee by Gov. Markell’s Executive Order 52. as reported in the Delaware State News on Saturday, Sept. 26 [“Markell appoints panel to keep watch on state spending”], is a prime example of insider whitewash.

There is no question that a serious bottom-up review of state budget outflow is needed to address Delaware’s sinking fortunes in the face of shrinking revenues.

Decreased revenues can be partially blamed on the failure of the Republican legislative leadership to support the proposed 10-cent increase in fuel tax, which would have been used by DelDOT for major job creation and economically stimulated transportation projects.

These same Republican legislative leaders, in collusion with the Democratic legislative leaders, then secretly granted annual raises in excess of $10,000 each for favored staffers [“‘Culture of power in Dover’ must be extinguished,” Opinion page, Sept. 27], while state employees were told there is no money for cost-of-living increases, in return for raised payroll deductions for health insurance and higher insurance co-pays.

There are some serious issues with the potential effectiveness of the assembled group, a subcommittee of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council.

First issue: Of the 12 members, there is only one woman, Ann Visalli, formerly the assistant treasurer when Gov. Jack Markell served as treasurer from 1999 to 2009, who was subsequently appointed as director of the Office of Management and Budget by Gov. Markell in 2009.

Second issue: Of the remaining 11 male members, several are lawyers, some are former elected officials or members of DEFAC. The others come from Christiana Care, Capital One, Community Foundation, Delaware State Education Association, Community Bank, and the University of Delaware.

Third issue: Of the 12 committee members, there are no small-business owners, no health insurance executives, no members of the Delaware Society of Certified Public Accountants, and no Delaware state Merit [System] employees.

Fourth issue: This subcommittee is heavily weighted with insiders. There is no true partnering with the private sector.

Fifth issue: While the stated goal is to reduce overall expenditures, the disclosed focus is Medicaid, which is a federally mandated program; and pension costs, the result of promises made to Delaware state employees for services rendered.

Sixth issue: While there are several other stated cost-cutting goals, don’t be surprised if further cuts to state employee benefits show up as marquee headliner in the final recommendations due by Jan. 29.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson is to be lauded for forcing the creation of this committee that should have been formed way back in 2009 when Gov. Markell first took office, at the height of the “Great Recession.”

However, without the injection of fresh ideas and analysis from truly independent outsiders who would bring the experience, know-how, and analytical skills required to perform a no-holds-barred complete review, it is doubtful that the monstrous task of effectively and thoroughly bringing the state of Delaware’s expenditures under control can be completed in less than four months.

Dave Graham

Editor’s note: Dave Graham was the 2014 Independent Party candidate for attorney general, the 2012 Independent Party-endorsed Republican write-in candidate for governor, the 2010 Republican write-in candidate for attorney general, a 2008 filed Republican candidate for governor, and a candidate in the 2004 Republican primary for governor. A 1979 graduate of Goldey Beacom College and a Delaware-licensed C.P.A., in his youth, Mr. Graham served as a sergeant with the U.S. Army First Armored Division in Germany.

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