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February 2009

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February 4, 2009

Come again? Explaining to Delaforum why the public should be barred from attending the General Assembly's Joint Finance Committee 'orientation' the other day, state senator Nancy Cook said that "all the committee is going to do" was to go over the same briefing Governor Jack Markell had already given to representatives of the media. Ann Shepard Visalli, director of the Office of Management and Budget, followed up with a helpful e-mail providing a link to a 16-slide Power Point presentation. The committee, we understand, met for a little more than six hours, with an hour off for lunch. If Cook was accurate in her assessment of the meeting agenda, it took an inordinately long time for the dozen committee members to comprehend a rather simplistic account of the state's fiscal woes. CLICK HERE to use the link and judge for yourself. Members of the committee -- a majority of whom evidently were happy to assemble outside the gaze of the folk whose money they will spend -- are: Cook, senators Catherine Cloutier, Dorinda Connor, Bruce Ennis, Margaret Rose Henry and David McBride, and representatives Joseph Booth, James Johnson, Melanie George Marshall, Joseph Miro, John Mitchell and Dennis Williams.


February 3, 2009

A determined state senator Nancy Cook barred the door as the General Assembly's Joint Finance Committee began six weeks of deliberation on a spending plan for the coming fiscal year tucked away in the basement of Legislative Hall in Dover. No matter that the state and national economies are foremost on most people's minds these days or that dealing with a massive revenue shortfall is far and away the primary issue in the local news. The bipartisan committee, which includes members of both chambers of the legislature, vies with the governor as the most influential elements of state government. Its opening session on Feb. 2 was to provide an "orientation" for committee members. That was of special interest in that Delaware Economic & Financial Advisory Council has not met since December and our new governor, Jack Markell, has yet to discuss in public anything but generalities about his thinking when it comes to dealing with the financial crunch. Cook would say only that the committee was formally charged with considering former Governor Minner's proposed budget -- which everyone knows will significantly rewritten before it's enacted in late June. But she made it clear that, as co-chair of the committee, she wasn't about to let the public look in on their representatives' initial foray into a most important bit of the public's business.

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