Delaware Lawmakers Press Pause on Budget Negotiations - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Lawmakers Press Pause on Budget Negotiations

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Lawmakers meeting in the Joint Finance Committee Hearing Room (Photo: WBOC) Lawmakers meeting in the Joint Finance Committee Hearing Room (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. - After talks over Delaware's budget negotiations stopped on Wednesday, local leaders are speaking out on what they believe should happen next. 

Speaker of the House and Democrat Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf put a stop to budget talks after nearly $30 million in cuts to state agencies on Tuesday, saying before any more cuts are made, lawmakers must look at raising revenue. The state recently approved an increase to the corporate franchise tax, but Schwartzkopf says more must be done.

"It's a mathematical situation," he says. "We have a 400 [million] dollar deficit, we've raised 100. If we don't raise more revenue we have to cut 300 million."

Schwartzkopf suggests the state look at raising the income tax as a new source of revenue, but House Minority Leader Republican Danny Short says that's not acceptable until more cuts are made.

"If [raising personal income tax] were to occur, there has to be some huge structure change in the way we operate," he says. "My colleagues on the other side of the aisle describe structural as a personal tax increase. Well that's not structural. That would be me telling you today, 'I'm short on cash, what do you have in your pocketbook? I'd like to have some of it.'"

Schwartzkopf says aggravating matters is the fact that the state already went through massive cuts in 2009, when they faced an over $800 million deficit. 

"We've already cut all the low hanging fruit. We got rid of the low hanging positions. We've already done all the things you'd do when faced with 400 million," he says. "What we are doing now is we are moving past the low hanging fruit and we're in the middle of the tree right now. We are cutting things that are really hurting people." 

Short says his constituents have called and asked them to cut back on spending before putting the burden back on them.

"People are saying, "It's about time you guys started cutting some things that are truly a little extravagant' or maybe things we don't necessarily have to do."

Budget talks resume on Tuesday. The budget must be balanced by June 30th. 

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