The first day of the 2012 State of Delaware legislature was held on Tuesday, January 10 . This year proves to be challenging as most Delawareans are concerned with the economy, the creation of jobs and the funding of local programs. State Representative for the Greater Milford Area, Harvey Kenton, will be serving his second year of his first term in the Delaware legislature and looks to the balancing of the State budget, education reform and the flooding issue of Prime Hook to be critical issues for his constituents in 2012.
Representative Kenton took office in 2011 after defeating his opponent by a margin of 54.3% to 45.7% (5,229 to 4,400 total votes). Mr. Kenton replaced long-term Representative George Carey who served his constituents for 26 years. Due to the redistricting of State Representative Districts last year, the size of Kenton’s district has decreased in size losing the towns of Milton, Lewes and Harbeson and gaining the South West region of Milford which includes the areas of Abbott’s Pond and Haven Lake.
During the 2012 legislative year Representative Kenton looks to help tackle the budget by reining in spending on the state level. Representative Kenton voted against the 2011 State Budget claiming it was fiscally irresponsible to pass. The Delaware legislature passed a $3.5 billion budget for FY2012 which was a 6.15 % increase from the year before. Representative Kenton is very open about the possibilities of programs being cut or minimized.
“The high cost of programs may suffer in 2012,” commented Representative Kenton. “We just can’t continue spending like we have, every department will need to be more efficient and find ways to do more with less.”
In addition to minimizing the budget Representative Kenton is looking to increase the number of jobs available in the Milford area by creating a more business-friendly climate. The Greater Milford Area has seen some success in the creation of jobs as evident last summer when Sea Watch International expanded their workforce in the form of a second processing shift. Mr. Kenton hopes to encourage Milford businesses to expand by working together with the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) and the City of MIlford to meet their needs.
“The legislature can’t just create new jobs,” stated Mr. Kenton. “We can make it better for our small businesses by listening to their needs.”
Education will be a critical issue for 2012 with 1/3 of the total $3.5 billion budget appropriated for educational purposes. Many schools across the state of Delaware have seen budget cuts in recents years and an increase in the demand on their faculty and staff. Since 2008 Reading Resource Teachers, Math Specialists, Academic Excellence Allotment and Teacher Cadre and Mentoring have been cut in the Milford School District alone. In all, the Delaware legislature has reduced spending to public schools in Delaware by $58 million. Representative Kenton acknowledges the challenges that this presents public schools and is in favor of future legislation supporting state-wide consolidation in areas such as transportation and supplies.
A local issue that continues to be of great importance to Representative Kenton is the flooding of the Prime Hook area south of Milford. Mr. Kenton states that Senator Gary Simpson and himself have worked on this issue and have asked that the breaches be filled to avoid future flooding. They have been met with opposing views from Fish and Wildlife officials that claim the plan is to reestablish the saltwater marsh.
“It is a sad day when fish, and birds take precedent over human life and safety,” stated Mr. Kenton.
Representative Kenton is a member of the Education, Agriculture, Veterans, Energy and Natural Resources Committees. Harvey is currently serving the second year of his first term and will be up for reelection in November 2012. Representative Kenton can be contacted by calling 302-744-4171 or sending an email to Harvey.Kenton@state.de.us.