Friday, June 25, 2010

Bond Bill

Last night, actually very early this morning, Delaware gave birth to a bouncing baby bond bill at 1:45 a.m. After a full day of legislative action in both chambers, the dedicated bond committee met and worked through the night.

Much like their cousins the Joint Finance Committee, the Bond Committee should be commended on their dedication to restore/preserve essential public services.

Transportation infrastructure consumes most of the committee's time and resources. In addition to big road projects the committee put more money back into the Community Transportation Fund (CTF). The CTF is used to repair neighborhood roads and is directed by state legislators. This fund has steadily dropped in bad times from $300,000 per legislator to $250,000 per legislator to $125,000 per legislator, and finally last night was improved slightly to $175,000 per legislator. Representative Bill Oberle was a vocal champion to make this happen last night.

The CTF is a perfect example of how Delaware media (one paper in particular) consistently misunderstand the workings of government and then proclaim and spread their ignorance. The CTF has been described as a slush fund for legislators. In fact, the projects come right down to your street in pothole and repaving and must be approved by the Department of Transportation. Without the CTF one of two things happen, either your roads fall into severe disrepair or a local entity (county or city) raises your taxes and picks up the repairs. Some prominent decision makers describe state government as "too big"; maybe that's because local governments in Delaware are too small, or in some cases too cheap.

The Bond Committee also bought police car computers for local towns, and dealt with local flood damage; additional examples of communities not being able to provide for their own public service infrastructure.

A special mention should be made of Senator Nancy Cook's successful effort to restore some money to the farmland preservation program. The money, about $2 million will be matched by the federal government. This fund makes long-term leases of arable land and green space to save it from development. While this issue doesn't get much attention it is vitally important as farm land and other green spaces continue to be gobbled up around the nation in poorly regulated development.

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