Delaware Gov. Says Republican Budget Compromise Unacceptable - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Gov. Says Republican Budget Compromise Unacceptable

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Delaware Gov. John Carney (Photo: WBOC) Delaware Gov. John Carney (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. (AP)- DOVER, Del. (AP) - Republican lawmakers said Thursday they're willing to go along with tax increases to balance a budget for the fiscal year starting Saturday if Democrats agree to certain conditions, but Democratic Gov. John Carney quickly shot down the proposal, calling it "unacceptable."
Republicans unveiled the proposal one day after the Democratic-led budget committee approved $51 million in spending cuts and zeroed out spending for an annual package of grants to nonprofit groups, community agencies and volunteer fire companies, a move that set off a partisan political firestorm.
Republicans said they're willing to support raising personal income tax rates and increasing eligibility requirements for additional personal credits, but not Carney's proposal to eliminate itemized deductions.
They also said they support two Carney proposals to force state employees to pay marginally more for their health care.
The budget committee watered down those proposals in favor of state employees, saving only about a third of the $10 million in savings under Carney's recommendations.
"I am always disappointed when we don't face the realities that we have to face," Carney said Thursday when asked about the budget committee's changes.
GOP leaders also indicated their willingness to support $22 million in education cuts proposed by Carney, and $16.8 million in higher alcohol and tobacco taxes.
Republicans said their support for an income tax increase is contingent on it being effective only for fiscal 2018, with any extension or adjustment requiring three-fifths votes in the House and Senate.
Carney said he told Republican leaders that the proposal was unacceptable.
"I want a sustainable solution ... You don't have a one-year tax deal," he said.
Carney said he did not support what was in the spending plan approved by the budget committee but did not say whether he would veto it should it pass the House and Senate.
Republicans also said their proposed compromise is contingent on lawmakers passing legislation mandating the implementation of new fiscal restraint and budget stabilization rules and reviews aimed at trimming health care and school district financing costs.
Republicans also are demanding changes to, rather than a temporary moratorium on, Delaware's prevailing wage laws, saying the prevailing wage, set by the state Labor Department based on employer surveys - and often driven by union wages - needlessly drives up the cost of taxpayer-funded construction projects.
"There is no prevailing wage. It's called the union wage," said Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle, R-Wilmington.
According to Republicans, unskilled construction laborers working no public projects make $44.70 an hour under the prevailing wage, while painters make $48.47 hourly, and carpenters make $53.81. By comparison, median market hourly wages in Delaware are $16.57 for laborers, $18.56 for painters, and $21.45 for carpenters.
Democrats are defending the prevailing wage and say it has nothing to do with developing a spending plan for next year.
Lavelle said the GOP proposal marked a "significant movement" from the GOP's previous position and accused Democrats of being intransigent.
"It is impossible to negotiate when one side refuses to compromise and doesn't even make a token attempt at reaching a consensus," he said.
The spending cuts approved by the budget committee on Wednesday are on top of more than $80 million in cuts approved by the panel last month.
Democratic lawmakers blamed Republicans for forcing the budget committee to "inflict pain" on seniors, students, veterans and nonprofit groups, even though Democrats have an 8-4 majority on the budget committee.
Republicans accused Democrats of kowtowing to unions and trying to gain leverage in budget negotiations by threatening to eliminate state assistance to fire departments, senior centers and community service organizations.

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