Highs and lows of 2018 legislative session
Delaware's elected representatives had an easier time navigating the 2018 legislative session compared to 2017. An improving economy meant more money to meet budget proposals put forth by Gov. John Carney.
Unlike last year, lawmakers weren't forced to cut services and increase taxes and fees to make the numbers work. That made for a lot less sweat, especially given this is an election year. No lawmaker wants to vote to raise taxes and fees in an election year.
It's disappointing that Democratic representatives couldn't muster enough votes in the governor's own party to take the entire budget-smoothing proposal put forth by a bipartisan panel, and endorsed by the governor, to a vote on the House floor. The proposal was all about good government and would have taken the state's budgeting process to a new level of sophistication and sustainability.
Now, because the proposal would require a constitutional amendment and special voting procedure, it won't be able to take effect, if it is ultimately passed, for another three years. Though not binding, the governor wisely signed an executive order that will use elements of the budget-smoothing proposal as a guide for the next round of budgeting in a kind of test drive.
One of the highlights of this session was inclusion of $10 million for farmland preservation and another $10 million for open space acquisition.
Property preserved for Delaware's important agricultural industry, and for public recreation and habitat protection, will help sustain our quality of life and give our wildlife a chance to thrive for generations to come.
Meanwhile, development continues at a rapid pace in Delaware, which means we have to commit heavily to improving our roads, water - drinking and recreational - and wastewater infrastructure for the benefit of those already here and those still to come. As our existing roads continue to fill, the trail system moving ahead in tandem with other state transportation improvements is looking more and more important as a means of getting around as well as a means toward outdoor recreation and good health.