Evaluating the Biden Campaign’s Delaware Relocation Proposal

Posted on 09-16-2023

CRI News

While Senator Evans-Gay’s aspiration for Delaware to become a “place to be somebody” is commendable, the current realities paint a different picture.

By Charlie Copeland, Director

Center for Analysis of Delaware’s Economy & Government Spending

September 15, 2023

“Last month, the News Journal published an Op-Ed, authored by Delaware Senator Kyle Evans Gay. I, Charlie Copeland, submitted a ‘response,’ but did not get selected to be published here it is for all to read!”

The Senator was encouraging potential staffers of Biden’s re-election campaign to relocate to Delaware, she paints an idealized portrait of the State. Her piece is rich with platitudes yet lacks substantial evidence. For instance, she wrote, “Delaware offers an oasis of opportunity to live, work and play…” with an abundance of “young leaders in business, nonprofits, and State government.” Unfortunately, she doesn’t support these claims with concrete facts.

Regrettably, her assertions misrepresent the realities of demographics, economics, and education in Delaware.

Looking at 2012 to 2022 US Census Bureau demographic data, Delaware aged at the 4th fastest rate and became the fifth oldest State in the Nation. Part of this trend saw young people leaving Delaware for more promising markets in the Southeast or the dynamic tech industry on the West Coast. While Delaware’s over 65 population grew, the youth population, those under 22 years old, declined by 3%. In essence, Delaware is a state where older people move in, while younger ones move out.

Economically, Senator Evans-Gay is correct that we live in a rapidly changing world, and sadly, Delaware is struggling to adapt. The state, once a haven for large employers and corporations, is experiencing a seismic shift. Companies with 500 or more employees have declined nearly 25% over the last two decades. In contrast, microbusinesses with five or fewer employees have proliferated. These micro businesses face the joint headwinds of a regulatory regime crafted for closed chemical companies and a tax regime unique in the Nation with an antiquated, oddly-structured, job-killing, small-business tax called the “Gross Receipts Tax” – a sales tax applied to a business regardless of profitability. Notably, Delaware’s unemployment rate ranks as the third worst in the nation.

As for education, the reality in Delaware is disheartening. In over 20 schools, only one in ten students is proficient in math or English. In the 2022 national education test, Delaware ranked as the second worst-performing State in 4th-grade reading. Our education outcomes are the worst they have been in 20 years according to the national test.

While Senator Evans-Gay’s aspiration for Delaware to become a “place to be somebody” is commendable, the current realities paint a different picture. Responding to these realities with a growth and opportunity agenda is the first step toward creating solutions that will truly make Delaware a beacon. Until then, Delaware’s twenty-year slide will continue, and President Biden’s campaign staff will continue to grumble.

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ABOUT CRI: Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization in Delaware that provides its public and private sector members with a unique opportunity to work together to develop policies and programs that effectively promote free markets, limited government, and individual liberty.
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