Gov. Minner a 'Star'
Editor's Note: The organization Sussex Women in Motion submitted this guest opinion for publication on Sussex County Online.
How should we measure the effectiveness of a governor? By a decision on one issue with which we disagree -- or -- by evaluating overall performance, minimizing conflicts, making difficult decisions?
Sussex Women in Motion (SWIM) endorses the "overall performance" measure. By that measure, Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner is a "star".
Delawareans can be proud of the fact that the financial health of the state is sound. We only need look to our neighbors Virginia and Maryland, who have been experiencing deficits in the billions -- not Delaware.
Governor Minner balanced the state's budget 1) without raising taxes; 2) without raiding the state's "rainy day" fund; and 3) without laying off state workers, which would have triggered reductions in vital citizen services. And she accomplished this working with a politically divided legislature. No mean feat.
Further evidence of Governor Minner's effectiveness is the fact that Delaware has retained its AAA bond rating -- this in a troubling economy where the stock market has been plummeting or, at least, gyrating.
Recent state bond sales were made at the lowest interest rate ever in the history of the state -- an average of 3.7%, some sales as low as 1.4%. And by re-financing some outstanding bonds, Governor Minner saved the state an additional $6.4 million in reduced interest payments.
Some might argue that interest rates are a function of the market over which states have no control. But only well-managed governments earn a AAA bond rating. Thank you Governor Minner.
Finally, are Governor Minner's priorities -- fiscal responsibility, citizen health, and safety and education -- misplaced? Surely not. Consider these initiatives:
Some quarrel with the Governor's decision to sign the smoking ban, which they feel should have exempted some public places such as pubs and taverns.
These critics may have a point. However, the Assembly's leadership would not allow any amendments that a bi-partisan group of legislators wanted to introduce. Was this a political strategy designed to foster controversy? Perhaps.
Regardless, Gov. Minner signed the bill rather than delay this important piece of health legislation to limit citizen exposure to the well-documented cancer risks associated with second-hand smoke. She did not take the easy way out. She did the right thing.
Governing is not easy. Controversy is the fodder of public governance and arises from special interests that conflict but which need to be balanced. The mark of an effective public leader is one who makes the difficult decisions, regardless of controversy, and one who walks effectively through political minefields to advance the overall best interests of the citizenry. Governor Minner deserves only the highest marks on all counts.
As for the future, citizens must remain mindful that Gov. Minner may be faced with difficult decisions in the days ahead, particularly if reduced revenue projections materialize largely due to fewer corporate franchise fees, and/or if the economy weakens any further due to decisions made elsewhere.
What we can be sure of is that Governor Minner has our best interests at heart and, more importantly, has the leadership skills to meet the thorny challenges. Fortunately for us all, Delaware voters demonstrated significant foresight in electing Ruth Ann Minner as our Governor.
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