Sussex County Delaware

Senator Encouraged
by Financial Ratings
 
Guest Opinion

By GEORGE H. BUNTING JR.
State Senator, 20th District, D-Bethany Beach

George H. Bunting Jr. (D-Bethany Beach) is a Delaware state senator in the 20th Senatorial District.

Delaware Senator George H. Bunting Jr.

For some time now, some citizens have expressed a desire to see an outside financial assessment of our state government.

Recently, as a member of the Joint Finance Committee, I was made aware of an independent evaluation of all fifty states done by "Governing Magazine". The evaluation appears in its February, 2003, issue and also online at www.governing.com.

"Governing" ranks Delaware very highly in three different categories used to measure the financial performance of all the country's state governments. In the category of "Adequacy of Revenue", Delaware was one of only four states receiving a perfect score of four out of four stars. The others were New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming.

In the "Management of System" category, Delaware also received the highest ranking -- one of only five states to do so. In the category "Fairness to Taxpayers," Delaware received three out of a possible four stars and was outranked by only one state, Hawaii.

Delaware is facing a projected budget deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2003, of as much as $300 million. We are required by our state constitution to balance our state's budget, and we will come up with a balanced budget as we have in past years.

As our state government goes through the difficult process of producing this balanced budget, I believe Delawareans can find some comfort in the many positive financial achievements Delaware government has accomplished, as indicated by this independent assessment of our performance.

Delawareans can take justifiable pride in our state government as one of the best in the nation in the area of financial management.

We have a long tradition of bipartisanship in solving our state's fiscal problems. We have many safeguards in place to protect the public's tax dollars. In addition to the constitutional provision requiring a balanced budget, the state constitution also bars the General Assembly from appropriating more than 98% of anticipated revenues and mandates a "rainy day fund" for unanticipated emergencies.

As a result, Delaware has a "triple A" bond rating -- the highest a state can achieve. This very favorable bond rating allows our State to sell its revenue bonds at the lowest possible rate, thereby saving our citizens millions of dollars a year.

As one of the members of the budget committee and as a fiscally conservative businessman, I am anticipating deep cuts in our state's budget. The process will be difficult for everyone. Some citizens will question certain of these cuts.

I urge everyone to share their views with their state legislators -- it is essential that we hear the views of those who are most affected by any potential cuts in state services. I am hopeful that with your help we can come up with a balanced budget that spreads the pain of the needed cuts in as fair and equitable a manner as possible.

George H. Bunting, Jr.
State Senator, 20th District
Legislative Hall
Dover, DE 19901
Work Phone, (302) 227-3891; Senate Phone, (302) 744-4144
Work Fax, (302) 226-3810; Senate Fax, (302) 739-6890


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