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House Republicans push $100 rebate; Dems may have own plan

Betsy Price Government, Headlines

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State House Republicans plan to circulate a bill to require Delaware to issue a one-time $100 million tax rebate that would give each resident $100.

Under the plan, a family of four would get $400 from the state’s expected surplus revenue of nearly $1 billion.

The rebate would help residents deal with the rise in the cost of gasoline and other costs caused by inflation, the Republicans said.

Only legal residents would be eligible, the Republican press release said.

“This proposal is consistent with what our members have been proposing since early last year,” said House Minority Leader Danny Short (R-Seaford). “Our state experienced huge revenue surpluses last year, without enacting any significant tax reduction measures. We have again been gifted with large surpluses in the current fiscal year. There is simply no excuse for not moving forward with targeted tax cuts and rebates, returning some of this excess cash to our citizens.”

Short and House Minority Whip Tim Duke (R-Laurel) said the 2020 Census recorded 989,948 people living in the state.  Current state population estimates slightly exceed one million.

Giving a $100-per-person rebate “amounts to less than one-eighth of the current surplus, providing state lawmakers with plenty of remaining flexibility to consider other proposals,” Duke said.

House Democratic leadership said in response that providing direct economic relief to residents is an effort they have been exploring and researching.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to announce a fully funded, economically responsible proposal in the near future,” said a comment released by Drew Volturo, the caucus’s deputy chief of staff for communications.

“The past year has been incredibly difficult for thousands of Delawareans,” the Democratic leadership said. “Working families have faced rising prices in stores and at the gas pump.

“The General Assembly has taken several steps to help residents up and down the state, whether it’s by increasing wages, improving working conditions or ensuring families have access to affordable healthcare. With the state currently projecting a large revenue surplus, we are looking toward taking steps to help Delawareans.”

The Republican rebate bill, expected to be circulated for sponsorship later this week, would direct the Delaware Division of Revenue to devise a plan to carry out an equitable and rapid distribution of the designated rebate within 30 business days of the measure being enacted.

Duke said Republicans really wanted to suspend the state’s gas tax, but could not.

Delaware has a tax of 23 cents per gallon on gasoline and 22 cents per gallon on diesel.  The money – about $11.5 million a month – is earmarked for the Transportation Trust Fund, where it pays for road projects, including payments on bonds sold to finance this work.

Under the Delaware Code, the state fuel tax cannot be decreased while there are outstanding bonds being repaid with the revenue.

Short and Dukes said they were also worried that lifting the gas tax could lead to problems in New Castle County because Pennsylvania residents would cross the border to fill up.

Short said giving a one-time $100 rebate to every legal Delaware resident would provide a more significant benefit to help modest income Delawareans.

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