Delaware shows the 2 parties can work together (Ken Simpler)

Lots of conflict and discord in this election season, because political contests are built around highlighting differences, but “let me offer a contrast that may surprise you.” I happen to be running for re-election, but the team of elected officials and political appointees of both parties that run the state’s finances are getting along just fine. Treasurer – auditor – secretary of finance – budget director – controller general. Great team – each has relevant experience.

We have worked in ever-greater coordination during my four-year term, and recently agreed to form a Financial Officers Roundtable to resolve interagency challenges. Real decisions get made, actions are taken on a consensual and often unanimous basis. Some cynics sneer at this as the “Delaware Way” (go along to get along), but I dispute this characterization. Decisions are on the basis of meaningful discourse, resolution of credible differences and trust that all parties are operating in good faith. For example:

•Gov. Carney’s Executive Order 21 will require the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Committee (DEFAC) to implement “historic reforms to the budget process” this year in accordance with previous recommendations of a bipartisan advisory panel. These challenges will be taken up next month by DEFAC’s Expenditure Committee.

•In December, the governor will receive the first full year report of the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review Board. The GEAR suggestions will heavily shape the governor’s recommended budget and strategic priorities.

•The State Employee Benefits Committee recently determined to create additional groups to focus on strategic planning for, and financial solvency of the state’s $800 million Group Health[care] Insurance Plan, which will hopefully promote the common interest in bending the healthcare cost curve down and ensuring high-quality healthcare for state workers and Delaware’s citizens.

•Before year-end, the Cash Management Policy Board will take under consideration the recommendations of a multiyear review and competitive bid for all of the state’s banking services. Look for endorsement of “sweeping changes to the network through which the state collects and distributes roughly $10 billion.”

In short, “work in our divided government can be slow and unsteady, but the direction is positive and the effect is constructive.”

Currently, there are only two Republicans in the scheme of things, Ken Simpler and Tom Wagner (who is not running for reelection). No wonder they have been trying to blend in with the other financial officials.
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