Delaware Public Media

Dueling budget platforms split Democrats and Republicans

Jun 13, 2017

House Democrats are set to unveil a hike to the personal income tax, adding a new bracket on earners making more than $150,000 in the face of deteriorating budget negotiations with Republicans.

No other details have been made public and the bill is currently circulating for co-sponsorship.

But they’re facing stiff opposition from Republicans who made clear again Tuesday they want structural spending changes made to the budget before they might agree to support it.

Many of the six points outlined by Republicans have been talked about for years.

They want to restrict prevailing wage requirements for local school districts and governments, study how to cut Medicaid costs and create a new budgetary spending benchmark.

Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle (R-Sharply) says he and other GOP leaders have floated these ideas to Democrats behind closed doors to little avail.

“We need to do all of these things because spending more money and increasing taxes is the same old can that gets kicked down the road. It’s not new and not systemic,” Lavelle said.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) and Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) referred to the afternoon press conference staged by Republicans as “antics” and “showboating”.

Schwartzkopf wouldn’t commit to any of the GOP’s proposals aside from creating a task force focused on potential changes to Medicaid.

But he says there will be dire consequences if the GOP doesn’t go along with raising some kind of new tax revenue.

“I honestly feel like they’re trying to make us into a third-world type state where we don’t provide services for our people, where we don’t provide a good education for our kids,” Schwartzkopf said.

Both parties have yet to agree on a ratio of spending cuts to new tax revenue during nearly three months of budget negotiations, according to Longhurst.

Gov. John Carney (D) floated an even mix in his proposal last March.

Negotiations among party leaders remain ongoing.