Senate Republicans say a package of tax increases passed Thursday in the Senate unfairly puts the burden on hard-working Delawareans and businesses to pay for wasteful state spending.
The four bills, which were voted out of the House last week, passed in the Senate despite unanimous opposition by Senate Republicans. The measures now go to Gov. Jack Markell’s desk for him to sign into law.
“When will we ever learn that if you give government more money, they’re bound to spend it,” said Senate Republican Leader Gary Simpson (Milford). “By giving the government more money, it doesn’t force them to become more efficient. We were promised four years ago that we would reduce the size of government. But here we are, back again, breaking our promise to the people of Delaware and spending more of their hard-earned dollars - dollars that they could better spend themselves.”
The legislation makes permanent the 2009 tax hikes to the state's personal income tax, gross receipts tax, corporate franchise tax and estate tax that were scheduled to start expiring at the start of the next fiscal year, which begins in July.
“People are angry that the government keeps taking more and more of their hard-earned money,” said Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown). “It’s time to stop it.”
The bills reflect proposals made by the governor in his $3.7 billion spending plan, a 3.5 percent increase over the current year’s budget.
Sen. Colin Bonini (R-Dover South) says the tax hikes only feed the government's poor spending habits.
“Government has an insatiable appetite and the only people who can stop that appetite are us,” he said. “The reality is that Delaware government continues to grow and grow and grow. And at some point that’s going to become unsustainable. We have to make ourselves make the difficult decisions and I think the only way we can do that is by not bringing in more money out of the people’s pockets.”
In addition, Senate Republican Whip Greg Lavelle (Sharpley) argues that the tax bills are premature.
"Traditionally, the legislature doesn't do tax bills until June because that's when we actually know how much money is available."
The Delaware Economic Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC), which is responsible for forecasting the state's revenue and expenditures, will meet three more times in April, May, and June before the budget is finalized.
"The trend has been that more money seems to show up in the spring as the session goes along," Sen. Lavelle said. "My concern is that if these tax increases are made permanent and then DEFAC forecasts additional revenue, that money will have been spent and built into the budget."
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