Sunday, June 28, 2009

If I Told You...

We all know the old joke that goes, "If I told you, I would have to kill you". Well, that's a little like the last few days in the legislature. Suffice it to say that DSEA is working very hard to reduce the impact of budget cuts on your salary and that furthermore the politics have been harsh.

In terms of grassroots engagement that can be helpful, I would recommend contacting your legislator and letting them know that taxation is preferable to budget cuts and cuts to state employees salaries. Moreover, it is better for the economy. Modest taxation takes less money directly out of the economy than does a salary cut to a working class state employee.

Also, taxation at upper income brackets redistributes wealth. Yes, I said it, "redistributes wealth". It has very much fallen out of fashion to say that about taxation these days. However, progressive taxation does redistribute wealth and that is a good thing. It is better to have 10 people earning $50,000 a year than to have one guy earning $500,000 a year. And the one guy making $500,000 should give back more to the commonweal. We have forgotten that as a state and a nation and now we are paying the price.

Today, yes on Sunday, was Bond Committee. There were two items of note. First, most school construction projects will be able to move forward in 2010. Second, this state should take a strong look at the Strategic Fund. This is the fund which supports economic development projects. The problem is that sometimes this amounts to attempting to entice corporations into Delaware with corporate welfare. Sometimes that game has to be played nowadays. However, there should be full transparency about the Strategic Fund. We should also have corporate accountability. If a corporation receives taxpayer money, they should produce the jobs they promise, the jobs should pay a livable wage with health benefits, the employer should have a record of obeying labor laws and environmental laws.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Still Here Still Fighting

My apologies to followers who have not seen a post from me in a couple of days.

First, the President Pro Tempore of the Delaware Senate passed away on Tuesday. This is a great loss to the state; so many years of public service, so many lives touched.

Theoretically, the legislature, by Constitution, must have a budget by June 30th. As discussed in other posts, there are procedural tricks to get you beyond the deadline: A supplemental budget could be passed and then the legislature could roll into Special Session. The legislative day of June 30th could magically last longer than 24 hours.

At Leg Hall, people are thinking of these tricks because a budget seems far away. A major obstacle continues to be the pay cut for state employees. Although the Joint Finance Committee has recommended a 2.5% pay cut, the entire House Republican Caucus along with 9 Democrats are refusing to vote for a budget with pay cuts.

Furthermore, revenue bills are not having an easy time of it. The failure to pass revenue day after day forces the JFC to balance the budget on cuts. The budget mark up will supposedly be completed on Friday. This document will probably be rather frightening because of the deep program cuts it will contain.

The DSEA has lobbied for revenue and gave testimony today in the House Revenue and Finance Committee on several bills. In addition to our testimony, we entered documents into the public record. One set of documents showed the overall "tax burden" of Delaware compared with other states. Tax burden is the logical way for a state to assess the taxation of their citizens. Instead of looking at isolated taxes and comparing rates, all state and local taxes are combined and then a state is ranked against other states. Using this method, with "1" being the highest tax burden on citizens, Delaware is ranked 24th. Our neighbor New Jersey is ranked number one as the most tax burdened, Maryland is fourth in the nation and Pennsylvania is eleventh.

The ranking of tax burden became important because of a story in Leg Hall that income taxes cannot be raised or people will move away. Now, that is a ridiculous idea to begin with. After a percentage increase on income tax, does someone sell their home moving away from job, family, school, and community? No, that does not make sense and there is no evidence to support this ridiculous idea. Did I already say, "ridiculous idea".

Another document entered into the record by DSEA was a letter from Noble Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. Stiglitz wrote Governor Patterson of New York about the prospect of cutting public services and pay for state workers verses raising taxes.

Stiglitz encouraged Patterson to raise taxes verses state cuts: "The reasoning is straightforward: in a recession, you want to raise (or not decrease) the level of total spending - by households, businesses and government- in the economy. That keeps people employed and buying things, and makes it more likely that businesses will want to invest to serve that consumer demand. Budget cuts reduce the level of total spending. Raising taxes on high income households also will reduce spending, but by less than the amount of the tax increase since those with plenty of income typically spend only a fraction of their income- and some of what they spend is spent on luxury goods made abroad.
By contrast, every dollar of state and local government spending enters the local economy right away, generating a greater economic impact. The impact is especially large when the money goes for salaries of teachers, policemen and firemen, doctors and nurses and others that provide vital services to our community."

One hundred and twenty New York economists signed onto this letter. The argument laid out by this brilliant economist is what DSEA has been trying to tell the Governor and legislature for months.

Representative Longhurst has sponsored HB157 a bill which guarantees that teachers on FMLA leave will return to their exact same teaching position. In order to gain votes needed to move the legislation, Longhurst changed the bill to only apply to Colonial School District. (This is the District that has purposefully denied FMLA teachers their previous positions.) Today, with the change, it passed the House and is now on track for Senate consideration.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Delaware Watch

If you have not discovered Delaware Watch, you should. This guy has a great take on contemporary issues in Delaware and the nation:

This will cause hand-wringing, weeping, wailing, and angry and sophistical comments:On average, charter schools are not performing as well as their traditional public-school peers, according to a new study that is being called the first national assessment of these school-choice options. The study, conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, compared the reading and math state achievement test scores of students in charter schools in 15 states and the District of Columbia—amounting to 70 percent of U.S. charter school students—to those of their virtual "twins" in regular schools who shared with them certain characteristics.I interrupted the flow of the findings so I could interject this comment: these results should surprise no one. There really isn't a rational reason to think that quasi-private schools should perform better than public schools. It's only a bunch of mystical market mumbo jumbo that makes people think so. So, read this and weep all you who tacitly root for the failure of the public school system:The research found that 37 percent of charter schools posted math gains that were significantly below what students would have seen if they had enrolled in local traditional public schools. And 46 percent of charter schools posted math gains that were statistically indistinguishable from the average growth among their traditional public-school companions. That means that only 17 percent of charter schools have growth in math scores that exceeds that of their traditional public-school equivalents by a significant amount.In reading, charter students on average realized a growth that was less than their public-school counterparts but was not as statistically significant as differences in math achievement, researchers said.Here's the assessment of a weeper:"We are worried by these results," Margaret Raymond, director of CREDO and lead author of the report, Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States, said at a news conference. "This study shows that we've got a 2-to-1 margin of bad charters to good charters."Haters of public schools and teachers' unions, editorialists and radio talk show hosts who naively think that charter schools walk on water—I confess, I am laughing at you. Vindication feels so good. ______________The study can be found here.Delaware Watch, Delaware Watch, Jun 2009

You should read the whole article.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Budget Solutions Far Away

Good evening from Dover. The House just put up three revenue bills: A wine and beer tax, an alcohol licensing fee, and a cigarette tax. ("sin taxes")

All three bills went down to defeat in a Party line vote. In order to get the 3/5 for a revenue bill, the Democrats must hold their caucus and peel away one Republican. They were not able to do that tonight...three times, 16 Republicans voted no, and one voted present.

Before the vote, Minority Leader, Dick Cathcart spoke on the floor about why his caucus would not support the bills. He spoke about the need to see a holistic budget package to have a complete picture for his caucus to consider. He said they needed a package without pay cuts to state employees. Cathcart said he was not comfortable with passing revenue in a piecemeal fashion.

This situation is close to what we had the first part of the session when the Governor decided he wanted a particular gaming bill, his way, on his timetable, weather or not a deal was made with stake holders. The Governor eventually got a bill, but in some ways we are still paying for it.

The Governor will have to deal with the Republicans to get a budget. Fortunately, for state workers and education employees the Republicans seem to be saying "no pay cuts" as loudly as DSEA and our coalition partners.
In an earlier blog it was reported that there are $531 million in unpaid corporate taxes. This is true, but it is deceptive. This amount is taxes owed by corporations that no longer exist. If a company goes out of business Delaware keeps them on the books for their last year of taxes. If they ever come back into business and seek another incorporation, then Delaware collects from them. Last year, Delaware collected $14 million in this fashion. However, it is almost impossible to project annual revenue from this pool of owed taxes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Daily Grind

The DSEA position on salary cuts remains unchanged. We are opposed to any concessions that involve a salary cut, even if that cut is only 2.5%. First, we need to remember that we have many low wage members: paraprofessionals, food service, and bus drivers for example. These hard working people have very little disposable income and yes, 2.5% is a big deal for them. Second, a salary cut establishes pay reduction as a legitimate budget balancing tool for years to come. Every economic downturn could bring another trimming of pay. Third, the decision to cut salaries was made without a sincere exploration of raising substantive and sustainable revenue. Fourth, education employees and state workers are already contributing to the solution. Our health care premiums have increased 50%, step increases are frozen, and many facilities are working under staffed. Employees with family coverage under the PPO are losing about $800 a year in premium increase. Finally, we are a union and we believe in an equal exchange of labor for pay. We do not want our people working as hard or harder for less, even if it is a small percentage less.

Many legislators understand our position. In fact, as things stand to date, in spite of the JFC vote, the Governor does not have the votes to pass a budget with the salary cuts.

DSEA entered testimony in committee on two bills today. In the House Education Committee we testified in favor of HB30 by Representative Earl Jaques. This bill increases the school assessment fee paid by developers in the Appoquinimik School District. The assessment for the rest of Delaware has been a .5 multiplier. However, for Appo this is not sufficient to keep up with the rapid growth. The rate of 1.2 is the proposed multiplier. This should ease the financial burden somewhat.

In the House Administration Committee DSEA testified on HB220 by Representative Melanie Marshall. HB220 is a bill that proposes adding the Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court to the State Employee Benefits Committee. DSEA testified that the bill should be amended to include representatives of the thousands of state employees insured in the plan. We want to see the SEBC expanded to include a representative of DSEA, AFSCME, the Troopers, and a retired at large. Currently, the governance of state employee benefits is in the hands of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Insurance Commissioner, the State Treasurer, the Controler General, the Secretary of Finance, and the Secretary of Health and Social Services.
Tomorrow, Representative Longhurst will put her bill (HB157) protecting the right of teachers on FMLA leave to return to their exact same teaching position on the floor of the House. DSEA will be present to lend support.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tomorrow is Another Day

Greetings All.
This is just a quick post to let all our supporters out there know that Friday's news from the Joint Finance Committee of a 2.5% pay cut recommendation is not the end of the story. The Governor still has to get the votes to pass the budget in the General Assembly.

Starting again tomorrow we will be promoting revenue ideas. The salary cut of 2.5% is worth about $29 million. That is not much in the scheme of Delaware revenue opportunities. In fact, $29 million is such a manageable number that we are about to find out who is truly the friend of public employees, and who is not. The Governor got his vote for a pay cut. However, as William Blake said, "The fox condemns the trap, not himself". Or, as the cowboys would say, "You saddled this bronc, let's see if you can ride it".

Friday, June 12, 2009

Joint Finance Votes Pay Cut

This afternoon around 2:00PM the Joint Finance Committee voted to cut the pay of state workers and education employees by 2.5%. The proposal is slightly different for education employees. They would take 1.5% in straight pay cut and two furlough days (during scheduled professional development days)equivalent in total to the same 2.5%.

This is not acceptable to the Delaware State Education Association and our coalition partners in State Workers United for a Better Delaware. Immediately after the vote coalition Representatives gave statements to the press expressing our dissatisfaction. Also, we had a chance to speak with several members of JFC giving the consistent message that the only vote which will get us off your case is for NO salary reduction.

This fight is a long way from over. Regardless of the fact that the Governor was finally able to pressure a seventh vote for salary cut in the JFC; as of this date, the Governor does not have the votes to pass the final budget with this salary cut.

The salary cut amounts to less than $29 million. In the context of revenue possibilities this is small change. A mere 30 cents a barrel tax on oil lightered up the Delaware would cover this amount. Collecting less than 6% of the $531 million in unpaid corporate taxes would also cover it. State Workers United will be showing lawmakers many ways to get $29 million without cutting the pay of the public servants.

However, we need to be honest with ourselves. This is not about the Governor and some of his supporters being clueless about revenue. DSEA and the coalition have been floating viable revenue ideas for weeks. Forcing the pay cut issue is about face saving, not dollar saving.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Push and Push Back

Governor Markell continues to pressure the Joint Finance Committee to vote for a salary reduction for state workers and school employees. He has not been able to capture the elusive seventh vote for any salary reduction schemes. Sources claim that the committee was deadlocked at 6 and 6 over a 4% salary reduction.

Reacting to the precarious situation, State Workers United pushed back hard today. The coalition hand delivered letters to each member of the JFC. The text of the letter is as follows:

It has come to the attention of State Workers United for a Better Delaware that the JFC is giving serious consideration to approving a 4% salary reduction for the 2010 budget.

In unequivocal terms State Workers United, on behalf of all our member organizations, is making it clear. A salary reduction is absolutely not acceptable to us; particularly one that is done without effort to find additional sustainable revenue.

We do not consider simply taking the Governor’s 8% reduction proposal and halving it a good compromise. In addition to the immediate pain this would cause our members and their families, such a vote would legitimize salary reduction as a legitimate budget balancing tool.

We understand the difficult position in which you find yourself. It is not easy to do your job when no substantive and sustainable revenue has been considered by the legislature. However, your continued refusal to vote for a salary reduction will force movement towards real revenue solutions that will maintain the Delaware quality of life.

State Workers United is willing to discuss alternative solutions with the JFC as a whole or with individuals.

Again, a vote for salary reduction will be considered a vote against our coalition and undoubtedly will be viewed by our memberships as a vote against them.


Vincent Fiscella, Tim Barchak, Karen Valentine
State Workers United for a Better Delaware

Deliberations of the JFC have been private to date; however, that will all change tomorrow afternoon. At 2:00PM on June 12th the Governor will sign a new open meetings and records act into law. The Joint Finance Committee process will be open to the public from that point forward.

The JFC will be meeting in the morning behind closed doors. Speculation is that the Governor will make a very hard push to settle the salary issue before the committee goes public in the afternoon.

Members need to stay alert and engaged. This struggle is a long way from over. Turn out, don't burn out.

Speaking of turn out...Thank your brothers and sisters at AFSCME for turning out large today and giving us respectable numbers for the Dover rally.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Zero Is Still Right Number

In Dover rumors continue to abound about the magic number for a percentage of pay cut for teachers and state workers. Meanwhile, state workers unions and DSEA continue to say, you're not hearing us, zero percent is the right number. Radio adds went up around the state today reinforcing that message for legislators.
Word is that the Governor will role out alcohol and cigarette tax bills this week. This type of revenue does not get us where we need to be. We need personal income tax, corporate franchise tax, tax on Limited Liability Corporations, and "decoupling" from the Federal Government's corporate tax loopholes.
Tomorrow DSEA will enter testimony in support of HB157 by Representative Longhurst. The bill guarantees that when a teacher takes time off under the Family Medical Leave ACT that he/she will be returned to their exact same position. This is a bill aimed to cure the abuse by administration of using FMLA leaves as an opportunity for involuntary transfer or reassignment.
Please do not forget that Thursday is another rally against pay cuts in Dover. We have moved back the start time to give folks plenty of time to get there. Make it by 6:00PM and you're on time!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Don't Pull the Trigger

The National Education Association (parent group of DSEA) is part of the Health Care for America Now (HCAN) coalition. The group advocates health care access for all. HCAN sent an appeal to Delaware today to lobby Senator Tom Carper.

Senator Carper is proposing a "trigger" proposal, effectively in opposition of health care advocates and the Obama Administration. The idea of the trigger proposal is that public health insurance would not be offered as an option as long as private insurers provided choices of plans in each state. It is strictly a market solution.

Senator Carper should stop and consider a few things about his market solution: First, the market has not improved either access or costs for decades. Health care costs are now 17% of gross domestic product and are predicted to be 20% of GDP by 2017. That is a staggering cost burden for a nation.

Second, private insurers offering a choice of plans happens now and does not provide anything approaching universal coverage because of the affordability factor.

Third, competition among the more than 1,000 health insurers has only added to costs because of layers of bureaucracy and profit making. The costs of these insurers take about 25 cents out of every health care dollar.

Fourth, health care does not compete by price, but by other factors such as quality, perceived quality, and location. When was the last time you saw a hospital running a sale on appendectomies?

Fifth, there are no health care consumers, there are only patients. This difference is crucial. A consumer buys services or products based on both need and want, is directly involved in the choice of the product or service and is in a position to bargain over price.
A patient is driven to the service by need. Many times the need is acute further reducing any choices. For example, when laying prostrate in an ambulance is a patient in a position to say, "Don't take me to St. Mary's, that place is too expensive. Drive me over to General"? A patient is told by a doctor the treatment needed that includes tests, medications, procedures, hospitalization, etc. The patient is not in the position to say, "Hey, Doc let's try a double bypass instead of the triple". Common sense and shared experience tells Americans they have very little control over the cost of their health care.

The market has made a health system that restricts access because of price. Around 50 million Americans have no health insurance and that number grows daily as people lose their jobs in the recession. Senator Carper's "trigger" proposal will only delay, once again, the long over-due reform of health care in America. Most of the world moved to universal health care plans after World War II.

We need real health care reform that includes access to a public insurance plan. You may wish to call Senator Carper and tell him so:
Wilmington 573-6291
Dover 674-3308
Georgetown 856-7690
Washington, D.C. (202) 224-2441

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tax System Lacks Fairness, Efficiency

This coming week the Governor's revenue bills will be filed. These bills as written, will do nothing alleviate the financial hit on school employees and other state workers. The Governor has boasted that his budget cuts more than it raises revenue.

In addition to not raising enough sustainable revenue, this administration is missing an opportunity to update Delaware tax policy and in the process make it more fair. Here are some "not so fun" facts about Delaware tax policy:

*Unlike many states, we still tax our poor. The DE Personal Income Tax starts at a mere $2,000 per year and takes 2.2% from them.
*By contrast, the Income Tax tops out at $60,000 per year; thus taxing some of our teachers at the same rate we tax millionaires.
*Limited Liability Corporations and Limited Partnerships are only taxed $250 per year. This tax is regardless of the size and income of these business entities. Some LLC are huge with hundreds of employees and millions in profits. The LLC is becoming the new "inc." In fact since Delaware law limits or eliminates their fiduciary duties, some corporate attorneys are advising that companies pursue the LLC instead of traditional incorporation.
*DE allows corporations to "carry back loss". If a corporation has been making money but loses money this year, they can reach all the way back to five years in the past and take the loss off of previously paid taxes and get that money refunded.
*DE allows "bonus depreciation". In this practice a company can take a 30% depreciation up front on brand new equipment.
*DE eliminated their tax on inherited wealth in 2000. This is a tax on estates of $4 million and more. It is estimated that the annual revenue would be between $35 million to $45 million.

The current DE tax code is in need of modernization to make it more efficient and reform to make it fair. Tax reform would position the state to withstand an economic hit in 2011 that is predicted to be as bad as 2010.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Slacker Corporations

There is a lot of buzz in Dover as the legislative days between now and June 30th are getting dangerously few.

Word is that the Joint Finance Committee has their sights on raising the education funding unit count from 20 to 21. The cost savings is around $24 million. Also on the cutting block is tuition reimbursement for educators as well as the SEED scholarship program.

At last, there are revenue bills in the works. Next week the Governor's revenue bills will be filed. Without amendments to increase their yield, these bills will do nothing towards eliminating the salary cut. Both the personal income tax and the corporate franchise tax bills will have to be made more substantive.

Representative Kowalko's revenue bills should be surfacing next week as well. Unlike the Governor's bills, these are designed for maximum revenue with a goal of eliminating the need for salary cuts.

There will probably be legislation to tax lightering, the practice of offloading oil from supertankers onto smaller ships for transportation up the Delaware. The oil industry is prepared to pull out all the stops, including court action to stop this tax.
An interesting piece of information was floating around Leg Hall today concerning corporate taxes. It seems that there is around $531 million in uncollected corporate taxes in Delaware.

When does being corporate friendly cross the line to being corporate dupes? How does this fact mesh with the so called shared sacrifice being demanded of state employees?

DSEA will be closely monitoring this situation and asking questions in a lot of places. Speaking of asking questions, I asked a question of Governor Markell months ago at a Wilmington "Reality Check" presentation. After the Governor had repeatedly stated that "everything was on the table", I asked, "Does that include all revenue options being on the table such as asking our corporate 'citizens' to do more?"

Perhaps I should have asked, "Do our corporate citizens have to obey the law?"

What would Delaware look like if we put as much energy into making this state a clean, green, educated, family place as we do into making Delaware the corporate tax haven?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Harvest is Plenty Laborers are Few

It was not a bad day as days go in Legislative Hall.

DSEA entered testimony on HB186 a bill that codifies the 403(b) school employee retirement accounts and establishes a board to administer the plans. DSEA is in favor of the bill and has asked for an amendment that specifically allows DSEA to designate one of the board members.
DSEA had a productive meeting today with Senator Peterson about SB95, the bill proposing consolidation of school districts. The bill is not expected to move this year, but is being used as a discussion starter. The sponsor wants to work with DSEA if/when the legislation becomes viable.
DSEA activated the cyber lobbyist program today encouraging members to ask legislators if they have signed on to the pledge against pay cuts. We also asked members to make a special effort to come to Dover on June 11th. A rally will be held on legislative mall on that day with people beginning to gather at 4:00PM, but speeches will not start until 6:00PM.

In spite of great pressure from the Markell administration, several more legislators signed on to the pledge today.

Our radio advertisements will begin in a few days.

Legislators please consider the following:
We have mounted a huge campaign against the unreasonable salary cut involving lobbying by thousands of members, new alliances, comprehensive communications efforts including polling, earned and paid media, research, mobilization, solidarity actions and more.
Now, if we lose this fight and you cut our salaries, by 8%, 5%, or what purpose and in what direction will our membership demand that we turn this machine? That's not a threat. It is political reality. Our membership will demand accountability as these cuts hit home causing real suffering to their families.

Representative John Kowalko has several revenue bills currently under draft. Once again, he is showing leadership on this critical issue. Representative Kowalko was the first to raise the issue using an erudite powerpoint presentation prepared with the help of DSEA member Philip Kaplan. The representative waited for colleagues to take up the challenge and file legislation based on the revenue ideas. When this did not happen, Kowalko proceded with legislation on his own.

The harvest is plenty. The laborers are few.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Keep Running

It has been quite a challenging year for teachers and education employees throughout the state. One gets the sense of our membership stretching towards the finish line as we near the last day of school. To keep the analogy going, when you break the tape...keep running.

DSEA needs your activism, your intelligence, your energy for just a little longer.

First, we need you to contact your legislators and ask them if they have signed on to the pledge to work toward a budget solution that does not involve pay cuts? If they have not, why not? We have about a dozen legislative days left. It is not out of line for us to seek a commitment to direction.

Second, we really need you to come to Dover on June 11th for the third and best rally at Legislative Hall. It will start at 4:00PM and last until about 7:00PM. Speakers will not take the stage until 6:00PM. Check with your Local and/or DSEA website about transportation and details.

We are asking a lot. There is a lot at stake. Coming to a rally at the end of the exhausting last day of school is a huge sacrifice, but it pales before an 8% salary cut next year.

Finally, in the next few days there is going to be legislation introduced that raises revenue. We believe that most of the legislation raises taxes in a progressive manner. That is it asks more from individuals and entities that have more. We are particularly interested in legislation that changes the Personal Income Tax and Corporate Tax systems in Delaware modernizing the structures and making them more fair. We will be asking for your support for several of these bills.

The whole thing is beginning to feel like a marathon, but you and your colleagues have the endurance. You guys will run them off their feet.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Take the Pledge

The Delaware State Education Association is going to mobilize our membership to ask legislators to sign on to a pledge not to cut the salaries of state workers and education employees. It is time for law makers to commit to good public policy. We are now 4 weeks from the drop dead date of June 30th. The legislators need to decide what they will do and we will decide what we are going to do.

Some legislators believe they can find a way to stick with the Governor and at the same time not break with the public employees. These same legislators think they can vote for a salary reduction less than 8% and that all will be well. We have said repeatedly that is not the case. The only percentage that works for us is 0. Legislators need to raise sufficient revenue to take the salary cut off the table.

Starting tomorrow we will be urging our members to bombard legislators with the questions: Have you signed on to the pledge of no salary cuts? If not, why not?
Then on June 11th come one more time to a rally in Dover to see who is with you.