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Bloomberg BNA recently posed a series of tax-centric questions to the Republican and Democrat candidates for governor in Delaware. Below are the responses from Republican candidate Colin Bonini.
Interview by Leslie Pappas
Senator Colin Bonini became the youngest member of the Delaware Senate in 1994 at age 29. Senator Bonini has represented the citizens of Southern Kent County for 22 years and has earned a reputation as a passionate & determined voice for limited government, fiscal responsibility, compassionate and effective public policy, and economic opportunity. In the 148th General Assembly, Senator Bonini serves on four committees: Banking, Highways & Transportation, Bond, and Insurance. In 2010 Senator Bonini received the Republican nomination for State Treasurer. Despite no Republican challenger winning state-wide in heavily democrat Delaware in years, Colin received 49 percent of the vote, falling by a few thousand votes. Colin received the highest percentage and highest vote total for a Republican challenger in recent Delaware history. Colin met the love of his life, Dr. Melissa A. Harrington, on an airplane in 1997. Colin and Melissa were married in 2001, and reside just north of Magnolia on their ten-acre horse farm, “Black Dog Farm,” with their two dogs: Sierra and Cleo, and three cats: Boo-Boo, Rambo and Lucky.
What are your priorities related to state and local tax, if elected?
Delawareans are not undertaxed. I'm not raising any taxes.
Delaware has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and our relatively high taxes are absolutely hurting the economy.
What existing state and local tax measures or initiatives would you seek to support? Or curb?
We need to reduce and reform our corporate taxes for sure. They are some of the highest in the country. And we need to reverse the increases on our business fees that we've initiated in the last few years.
And I think we need to make sure that our casinos remain competitive because we have the highest tax in the country on our casinos, which makes them less competitive than surrounding casinos.
The bottom line is that restoring prosperity solves all of our revenue problems. We don't need higher taxes; we need 10,000 more jobs. If our economy is running as it should be, there will be plenty of tax revenue.
What is the biggest hurdle you foresee to enacting your major tax-related initiatives?
I have to convince the Legislature to go along with my tax policy—that is, the reduction in spending and keeping them from raising taxes.
What is the biggest challenge you see facing Delaware from a tax and revenue perspective, in light of current and evolving market conditions?
The top concern is escheat. No question, that's the biggest issue we have to watch, because it's close to 15 percent of our budget. The federal government and courts might tell us we're not entitled to that money—which only adds emphasis that we need to reduce spending.
Over the first several budgets, I would like to reduce the dependency on escheat money and move that money into one-time category expenditures, not keep it in the operating budget.
Do you believe Delaware has the right balance right now in terms of overall taxes? Does anything need to be re-balanced?
The biggest priority is to streamline spending to reduce the impact of big government on our economy.
My proposals are: to reduce spending by offering early retirement to state employees to reduce our workforce; standardize medical billing and patient tracking for Medicaid and state employee health care; pass right-to-work legislation; reform our regulatory structure, reduce environmental regulations to cut utility costs; and bring manufacturing back to Delaware.
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