The Delaware General Assembly convened this week for its 147th legislative session with the knowledge that Gov. Jack Markell planned to take up the issues of gay marriage and gun control in 2013.
But legislators would have to wait until Markell's next state of the state address to find out his thoughts on whether to let the state tax increase of 2009 expire or continue on.
In the meantime, legislators were busy getting sworn in on Tuesday and meeting with their caucuses on Wednesday.
State Rep. Don Blakey (R-Camden) took some time out of this hectic week to sit down for a brief interview with the Dover Post.
Q What are the big legislative issues that will take priority for the state legislature and the governor in 2013? Do you think the death penalty, gun control and gay marriage will be among the issues discussed by the General Assembly?
A There are about $200 million in temporary tax hikes that will start to expire in the upcoming fiscal year. Those increases were enacted in 2009 to deal with a budgetary shortfall and there is going to be an active debate regarding the possibility of extending them. The governor has already indicated that he wants the General Assembly to consider gun control measures and the issue of same-sex marriage. Additionally, House Republicans proposed a series of government reform measures last September, and I think we'll start to see those proposals being introduced as bills very soon.
Q Is there anything you can say at this point about whether state tax increases from 2009 should expire or continue given the current state of the economy?
A I think we should keep the promise that we made in 2009 and let those tax hikes expire as planned.
Q Speaking of the tough economy, do you think there will be any talk of belt tightening measures or cutbacks in state spending?
A Our state can only spend 98 percent of projected revenues. Those revenue projections are made monthly from March through June and can change significantly from one month to the next. As we get closer to the start of the new fiscal year in July, those projections will become increasingly important and will impact what we need to do to maintain services and pass a balanced budget.
Q Is there anything you wanted to add in general about coming back to office or being newly sworn in, as it were?
A I'm pleased and excited to be back. It's going to be a challenging year and I'll be reaching out to the people in the district I represent to help guide my actions on their behalf.