Education, incarceration reform topics at Markell’s final State of the State Address

Seven years down and one more to go. Delivering his final state of the state address Thursday afternoon, Delaware Governor Jack Markell reflected on the state’s perseverance through tough times and expressed his hope for what’s next.

“As the path for Delawareans to achieve the American dream has changed, our people have risen to the occasion,”said the Governor, “I want to set out a vision not only for the last year of my administration, but also to ensure Delaware’s success for generations to come.”

A point of pride in the address? Education.

Delaware’s high school graduation rate is the fastest growing in the country according to the most recent U.S. Department of Education data. But still, Markell says there is a strange phenomenon happening in the job market.
“Even as employment in our state has reached historic highs, we confront the odd reality that Delaware employers are hiring, but they can’t find enough qualified applicants. Now this is frustrating, because we know that Delawareans can do the work,”

Among his proposed solutions TechHire.

A federal initiative that trains residents in tech fields and helps connect them with jobs. It already exists in Wilmington, but Markell wants to expand it as well as continue Pathways to Prosperity, a state program allowing high schoolers to work at Delaware businesses.

Markell is also calling for more scholarships for part-time college students not just full-timers.

Turning to the criminal justice system the governor called for reform to do away with mandatory minimums.

He says current laws are forcing over 600 ex-offenders to serve extended sentences for crimes that are non-violent.

“The cost to taxpayers of these automatic sentences and of keeping habitual offenders behind bars for decades is enormous. Criminal behavior peaks when defendants are in their early 20s. We don’t need to sentence all of those offenders to life in prison when many will age out of crime.”

Markell also said the official ceremony naming the Delaware Armed Services Reserve Center in honor of former Delaware Attorney General, Beau Biden, will happen this spring.

Following the address 47 ABC caught up with Speaker of the House, Peter Schwarzkopf, and Senator David Lawson (R – District 15) to get their reaction to the governor’s speech. Schwarzkopf tells us he’s always a fan of being reminded how state legislators have worked together while Lawson had a positive reaction to some suggestions involving teachers.

Speaker Schwarzkopf told us, “It’s always good to hear him talk about the good things we’ve done over the last eight years because it reminds us of what it’s like to work as a team to get things done.”

“One of the things I liked was the teacher side of things he brought forth. I think that that’s a good idea to bring them up and offer them better wages, but at the same time we have to have a method to get rid of those teachers that are not doing the job so that our good teachers can excel.” said Sen. Lawson.

Categories: Delaware, Local News