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May 9, 2017

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As minority chief in Delaware Senate, Simpson’s in the thick of it G ary Simpson, a long- serving Delaware senator from the Milford area whose district included the greater Lewes area for many years, sees a lot of angst coming in Dela- ware’s Legislature over the next six weeks. It all has to do with Delaware’s annual budget, and he will be right in the thick of it. A lifelong Republican, Simpson is the minority leader in the state Senate where Democrats hold an 11-10 margin. Why the angst this year? Unfortunately, it’s not unfa- miliar ground for the state in recent years. “We have another year with a budget deficit,” said Simpson. “It’s not been easy since 2009. Carper had it good when he was governor.” With money rolling into the state from corporate fees and escheat funds, Carper was able to cut taxes in the state for seven of his eight years. Then, when he was succeeded by Ruth Ann Minner, the economy went sour, and she had little left to work with. “Markell never had it easy,” said Simpson. “But someday you have to pay the piper, and that’s where we are now.” Simpson has long been the picture of a moderate Re- publican. He was an early and unapologetic supporter of Delaware’s medical mari- juana legislation. “I had severe reservations at first, but then I discussed it with my wife, Debbie. She told me that if she had cancer and I knew that marijuana could ease her upset stomach and help keep her ap- petite, she knew that I would go out and get her some. I still feel good about our law now.” But when it comes to legal- izing marijuana for recreational use, Simpson reverts to his con- servative roots. “There are too many unanswered questions. We’ve spent millions with taxes on cigarettes to get people to quit smoking. But unless studies show it is harmless from all aspects, it’s too soon to recom- mend to our population that they smoke marijuana.” Simpson also usually hews to the Republican philosophy on budget items. “Republicans, in their minds, don’t generally favor tax increases over making government more efficient. The Democrats of course are at the point of saying, ‘We’ve cut all we can; we need more taxes.’ But Republicans in Delaware feel deeply that we aren’t as efficient as we can be. Maybe that feeling would change if we had a Republican governor. But we haven’t had one since Mike Castle.” Simpson said finding the middle ground is what the leaders have to do. “Some think compromise is a bad word, but it’s what can make government work. We have to try to get things in balance. Right now, they’re not.” Gov. John Carney, said Simp- son, is misleading the public when he says he’s trying to close the state’s $400 million budget gap with a mix of 50 percent cuts and 50 percent tax increases. “It’s more like 80/20 in my mind, with 80 percent coming from more taxes. Saying you’re cutting school spending by $22 million but just shifting that burden to the school districts or the coun- ties isn’t a real savings. Shifting taxes doesn’t save anything. “Yes, he would allow the districts to replace those funds with additional taxes for discre- tionary funding without going to referendum, but it would destroy districts’ chances of passing referendums for other areas in the future.” But Simpson isn’t opposed to raising taxes in some areas. He’s a sponsor of legislation that would set a tax on short- term rentals such as Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) or Airbnb. “I rent a house in Florida each winter and they have an 11 percent house rental tax. I don’t even think about it. Some of my fellow Republicans say I shouldn’t be supporting any new taxes, but sometimes they make sense. We have a tax on hotel and motel rooms. Why not on these other accommo- dations? I believe in exporting our taxes to out-of-state people. I’d rather get taxes from them than our own people. And we haven’t raised taxes on ale, beer and hard liquor for 20 years. Why? We could raise another $10 million per year with a small tax increase which would amount to three pennies on a can of beer. There will be push- back from the liquor industry, but ... .” On the other side of the ledger, Simpson thinks Dela- ware should get rid of the estate tax. “In 2009, it was projected that tax would raise about $20 million to $25 million per year. Last year it raised $1.4 million. It’s driving wealthy people to change their residences to places like Florida without estate taxes. Those are the people who support our arts and nonprofits and give us their income taxes. But you know the attitude I get sometimes from the other side of the aisle? ‘Let them walk.’ Being in the minority can be a frustrating position.” Still, he said, it’s leadership’s obligation to find a solution. “And because of the superma- jority of votes needed to pass the budget, the Democrats can’t do it without us. We have a very cohesive caucus.” Dennis Forney is the publisher of the Cape Gazette. the law enforcement system. As we move toward a cash- less society, cash has become the medium of choice for thieves and other illicit transactions. Some honest folks may take offense as some cash may be being traced for law enforcement purposes. They need to understand that the recorded bills are not hot un- less they are taken in a robbery. There should be no fear of pa- tronizing a business which uses this form of protection. The pro- tection is no more invasive than surveillance cameras, and will add to the arsenal of enforcement tools available. If you honestly re- ceive a bill which was involved in a robbery and become involved in an investigation, you may be congratulated in helping solve a local crime. If word gets out that Long Neck businesses are doing this, or might be doing this, that rumor alone may reduce the number of burglaries in the area. They will have to go somewhere else. And if it works in Long Neck, it will work anywhere. It might as well start here. To get started, only one person is needed to visit local business- es, make and distribute some offi- cial signs and record a few serial numbers. Publicity of this new practice in the local media would help. Endorsement by local law enforcement would give the program credibility. Local bank participation using high-speed serial readers would thwart the laundering of hot bills and nar- row the search for perpetrators. A program like this shows community unity and a concert- ed effort to take a stand against crime of this nature. George Rudgers Lewes Thanks to Delawareans for glasses donations Many hands make light work. And thanks to the many hands at work in Delaware, a lot of people in the Dominican Republic see better today. We are Bethany Beach residents who are part of an eye mission team based at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Savannah, Ga. For four years, we have dispensed eye health care to the people of San Pedro de Macoris, a city of 180,000 on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic. We have just returned from our latest trip, and we distributed more glasses than ever. All of the 500 pairs of prescription glasses came from Delaware. The Many Hands team starts with Lions Clubs all over the state, who col- lected boxes filled with donated glasses. That included a box at our summer church, St. Martha’s Episcopal Church in Bethany Beach. The glasses were then taken to Delaware corrections institutions where they were cleaned and their prescriptions determined, a huge undertaking coordinated by the Delaware Lions Sight Team. In the past three years, we have carried nearly I0,000 pairs of prescrip- tion glasses from Delaware to an Episcopal health clinic in San Pe- dro de Macoris where our team has evaluated and addressed the visual needs of several thousand townspeople. Thanks to the people of Dela- ware, we found a new use for old glasses and provided the magic of improved sight. Some people are actually seeing clearly for the first time in their lives. Our team saw this exciting reaction first- hand. But you, Delaware, and the glasses you donated have made it possible. Haydee and Jim Toedtman Bethany Beach Sayonara, Cape Gazette I bought my last Cape Gazette last Friday. For a paper with very little news and mostly paid advertisements, the 100 percent price hike was an insult to me. I wish you well with your reduced readership, and I expect reduced revenue even with the 100 per- cent price hike. Lawrence Myslewski Rehoboth Beach DELAWARE CAPE REGION HISTORY IN PHOTOGRAPHS » DELAWARE PUBLIC ARCHIVES/CHARLES WILLIAM HODGE CHARLES WILLIAM HODGE made lots of photographs in Delaware in the early 1920s. His subjects varied from co-workers and scenes from his auto service station to natural scenes in the middle and southern parts of the state. Two rowboats, a wooden dock and a passing sailboat on Herring Creek off Rehoboth Bay created a com- position the photographer’s eye couldn’t resist. Hodge’s photographs are part of the extensive collection housed at the Public Archives building near Legislative Hall in Dover. RECREATIONAL BOATING ON HERRING CREEK IN EARLY 1920S Letters » Continued from page 6 Cape Gazette VIEWPOINTS TUESDAY, MAY 9 - THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2017 7 Dennis Forney » POLITICS