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Note: This page is part of the Governor's News Archive, which holds press releases from January 2009 through September 2011. Since October 2011, recent news can be found in the Newsroom and archived news is available at

January 20, 2011

Better Jobs, Stronger Schools, Safer Communities and More Efficient Government:

State of the State Makes Clear Critical Priorities and the Path Forward Together

Full text and video available here

Governor: "Our state is far stronger than the challenges we face"

State of State by Dave Chambers
Photo taken by Dave Chambers of the Delaware State News at the 2011 State of the State address:

Dover, DE In his third State of the State address, Governor Jack Markell offered a call to action for Delawareans to keep working together to make progress on the state’s most critical issues and provided a path forward on each.

"We can create new jobs and industries, but we do it best together. We can educate our children to face the world’s challenges, but we do it best together. We can make our schools and communities safer, and help those in need, but we do it best together. And we can make state government more efficient and effective. But we can only do that if we do it together," Markell said.

The address laid out over twenty-five new proposals or updates on efforts underway to tackle five priority policy areas: getting people back to work and expanding economic opportunity; creating the strongest possible public schools; making government more cost-effective; creating safer schools and communities; and ensuring the most vulnerable Delawareans are not left behind.

Building our Economic Future remains the Governor’s top priority and the state’s most critical mission. The address makes the specific suggestions of:

  • A new Job Creation Infrastructure Investment Fund to seize the best opportunities for job creation in a way the Transportation Trust Fund currently cannot.
  • Tax credits to support job growth for businesses large or small that are willing to put Delawareans to work in a new or expanded manufacturing facility whether it be for traditional manufacturing, or for clean energy.
  • A new partnership with the Delaware Manufacturing Association, led by Chamber of Commerce President Jim Wolfe, to build on effective past outreach to local manufacturers on topics ranging from lean manufacturing techniques to energy savings programs. The partnership will develop and implement new ways to expand manufacturing jobs in Delaware.
  • Continued improvements to make permitting more efficient and predictable for small businesses.
  • Restocked funding for the State Strategic Fund to offer targeted investments in economic growth.

"To those who create jobs: We will be your partner," Markell said. "We must think like entrepreneurs and others who create jobs. Anyone who can create a decent job, whether they are already here or across the ocean, needs to know we are more responsive and more committed to their success than anyone else, anywhere."

Delivering a World Class Education: The state’s focus on helping the private sector create jobs has led to significant progress on the issue most critical to our long-term success working with Delaware’s excellent educators to ensure we have the best possible public schools. The address makes clear that Delaware children must be ready to compete and win in a global economy. That requires:

  • Expanding language education so workers can be ready to meet the challenge of communicating around the world. The state recently proposed, and the State Board of Education, led by Teri Quinn Gray adopted, the final regulations making Delaware one of a handful of states to require completion of a world language in order to graduate. The Governor also signed an agreement with the Hanban Institute to bring several teachers from China to Delaware, offering Chinese language courses to our students at virtually no cost to Delaware.
  • Putting greater focus on science, technology, engineering and math, or "STEM." The Governor announced that Jud Wagner of the Brandywine School District and Senator Ted Kaufman would co-chair the state’s STEM Council and discussed the new STEM Teacher Residency Program to attract individuals with experience in the STEM areas to the teaching profession.
  • The earlier adoption of new, higher and "common core" academic standards.
  • More rigorous standards around what makes a child "proficient" and continued implementation of reform efforts, such as:
    • A better assessment system, measuring student growth during the year and providing real-time feedback so teachers can adjust and improve student learning on the spot.
    • Measuring student growth in every subject area so we can link teacher evaluations with how much their students learn in their classroom, identify what works, and raise the quality of instruction across the state.
    • More time for teachers to collaborate with their colleagues and to work with data coaches in interpreting student data and developing strategies to address identified needs.
    • Meeting parents’ requests for more Advanced Placement courses.
    • Incentive pay to attract highly effective teachers to high-needs schools.
  • Putting a greater focus on our lowest achieving schools through the Partnership Zone process, which has led to bold plans including leadership and staffing changes, hiring flexibility, the creation of focused academies, and the implementation of longer school days and school years at four public schools
  • Making sure children arrive at Kindergarten ready to learn, building on recommendations from a task force co-chaired by Lt. Governor Matt Denn and Connie Bond Stuart, President of PNC Bank, Delaware, and from our Early Childhood Council, led by Dan Rich.

"In the last two years, Delaware established itself as the First State when it comes to education reforms. Now, we’re working to make Delaware the First State when it comes to education results," Markell said.

Creating Safer Schools and Communities is important to improving Delaware’s quality of life. From violence in schools, to dangerous drivers, the Governor proposed:

  • Homeland Security Secretary Lew Schiliro, with his experience leading the FBI’s office in New York City, will oversee the creation of model comprehensive school safety plans for the 26 public schools with a State Police School Resource Officer.
  • Making those who violate our laws fund efforts to reduce the incidence of gun violence.
  • Tasking the state with working with local law enforcement professionals to focus these new resources, including additional state troopers, on reducing gun crimes, beginning in the City of Wilmington.
  • Making the streets safer through a focus on revamped DUI laws.
  • A Justice Reinvestment Initiative to more effectively target our limited criminal justice resources and maximize public safety.

Bringing More Cost-Effective Government is critical to ensuring Delaware’s long-term financial future. The Governor made clear there are no easy decisions and proposed the following:

  • Continue to engage in dialogue with representatives of the major state and public education union leadership, leaders from within the General Assembly and others to identify a solution to the rapidly escalating costs of our employee health insurance and pensions. These costs account for $453 million of Delaware’s budget and taxpayer contributions for pensions increased by 594% and 257% for healthcare of the last 11 years.
  • Work with Secretary Rita Landgraf and Director Ann Visalli to propose ways to modify our Medicaid program to better control costs. Medicaid currently uses $600 million of taxpayer money annually, up 143% over the past 11 years.
  • Acknowledge popular programs may need to be cut because of budget challenges.
  • Continue efforts to identify create ways to expand quality service, without additional cost. For example, new partnerships in 2010 expanded access to the arts and history without increasing government spending. This year, Secretary of State Jeff Bullock will launch a first-ever arts marketing campaign using significant private and foundation funding to help make arts organizations more self-sufficient.

"Maximizing the return on every public dollar we spend must be a central goal during these difficult times," said Markell. "Over the past two years, we have made tough cuts, we have implemented stringent efficiencies, and we have reduced the size of our state work force. Those efforts will continue."

Leaving No Delawarean Behind must remain a priority despite a difficult budget. The Governor proposed the following:

  • Continue to make improvements in our state hospital. We have made improvements, and have more to make, while working to treat fewer people in institutions and more in the community. Working with advocates, Secretary Landgraf has developed a plan to make the transition to more community placements.
  • Make sure that children aging out of foster care are given the opportunities they need to succeed. Secretary Rapposelli of the Kids Department and Director Ben Addi of the Delaware State Housing Authority are launching a partnership that will provide safe and affordable housing for these youth while they move toward independence.
  • Identify ways to expand opportunities for fellow citizens with cognitive and other disabilities. For example, the Sheltered Workshop and Employment Program partners with businesses to find opportunities for these brave citizens to contribute and to feel the pride of a productive day’s work.

"We have worked, we have struggled, we have dug down, and we have pushed back, to clear a new and brighter path to the future a future where all our citizens can find a job that provides an opportunity to employ the full scope of their abilities," said Markell. "Greater efficiency is crucial to our success, but we cannot leave vulnerable Delawareans behind."

Thanking Citizens Working to Move Delaware Forward

While the address looked largely forward, Markell did take time to thank a number of Delawareans for their support and assistance in helping the state make progress on several issues and achievements, including:

  • Hundreds of workers preparing to re-open the refinery in Delaware City.
  • Craftsmen getting the chance to reopen the former GM Boxwood Road plant and make world-class vehicles for Fisker Automotive.
  • New workers at ILC in Kent County, who make critical components of advanced airships to aid our armed forces overseas.
  • Perdue’s decision to move its agribusiness headquarters to Seaford, creating hundreds of jobs in the process, and Mountaire’s decision to grow in Millsboro.
  • Hundreds of skilled workers in Dagsboro installing equipment to make the NRG power plant dramatically cleaner.
  • Winning the national Race to the Top education competition and implementing reforms
  • Maintaining a focus on fiscal responsibility despite historic budget challenges, which has made Delaware one of only eight states with a AAA rating from all three bond rating agencies.

The address made mention of and the chamber offered cheers to specific Delawareans for their commitment to the state.

  • Esteban Gonzalez, who worked at the refinery in Delaware City since 1981 and faced an uncertain future when Valero closed the plant. He was rehired by the Delaware City Refinery Company as a technical training supervisor and is helping others get back to work as well.
  • Sussex Central High School math teacher Karen Berry, who is an officer in the Delaware National Guard.
  • Her husband, State Trooper Mike Berry, who is also an officer in the Delaware National Guard and returned from service in Afghanistan
  • Former Congressman and Governor Mike Castle and former State Senator Nancy Cook, who each added immeasurably to our state the last several decades.

"I want to thank all of you the state workers and public education employees who have kept our public services going, the police and fire and military personnel who have kept us safe and secure, the small business owners who have hung on and the new businesses that have moved in, the neighbors who have come together and the solitary Delawareans who have gotten up and gone in to work or look for work every day and I want to thank everyone here in this hall today for all you have done to help keep our state going during these challenging times," Markell said.

Last Updated: Monday, 05-Aug-2013 15:26:08 EDT
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