LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘Swinging for the fences’ not the best strategy to cut state spending

A few months ago, the administration reluctantly relented to the idea of having a task force examine state spending. To average Delawareans, that idea should have been a no-brainer. I would like to applaud the efforts of Rep. Lyndon Yearick for putting the task force bill forward and insisting on its implementation despite the resistance from many in the ruling party.

That group — the Delaware Expenditure Review Committee — has met and released their findings. They had a tough task and worked diligently to get it done. Many of their suggestions, including health care reform, changes to education funding, reducing costs in the Department of Correction, and others should get serious consideration by the people’s representatives in the General Assembly.

Jeffrey Spiegelman

Jeffrey Spiegelman

That does not mean all of them will or should become law — only that it is our duty as elected officials to respect the work done by the members of the committee.

However, the items I listed above are all big-ticket items. They are home runs. Sometimes, that wins you the ballgame. But it also means you have a high percentage of striking out. Instead, I was hoping the committee would take more of a base-hit approach to dealing with state spending.

In business, oftentimes, you have to take the approach that pennies equal dollars, which can equal real savings. Yes, perhaps the home runs would get a lot more done with a single swing. I contend that the “pennies equal dollars” (base hits) mentality may save us just as much, if not more, without the political fight that often comes with swinging for the fences.

In fact, when I read the report, I was struck that the Office of Management and Budget, in conjunction with a contractor it has been working with for years, had such influence over the areas of conversation that would be considered as possible recommendations. So, a group in charge of putting together state spending every year under the direction of the governor (which is OMB), along with the contractor OMB works with, impacted what topics were brought to the table in a group tasked with reducing state spending.

Some areas mentioned by the committee members themselves were not even considered because the scope of the committee was limited to only funding appropriated from the General Fund. For example, DelDOT’s operating expenses that the state is funding by tens of millions of dollars out of the Transportation Trust Fund over the last few fiscal years were not allowed to be considered.

Here we are as a government with the same mentality as before — resistant to running our affairs like a business (or a baseball team, to continue with the theme here). To make matters worse, an element inside the General Assembly has plans for a gas tax increase. I hope this frustrates you as much as it does me.

However, I guess there is good news — spring training is upon us.

State Rep. Jeffrey N. Spiegelman
R-District 11
(All or parts of Clayton, Hartly, Kenton, Marydel, Middletown, Townsend)

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