The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) has served this state admirably by providing non-partisan state revenue and expenditure forecasts over the last thirty years. DEFAC estimates have been accepted by the Legislature and last four Delaware Governors without question as a basis for appropriations and tax policy.
It is within this context that I must respond to recent statements made by candidates Bill Lee and Charlie Copeland criticizing the stateâ€™s revenue forecasting process by calling it â€śpoliticized.â€ť They further claim that â€śthe state employees who feed the numbersâ€ť to DEFAC are the culprits. By implying that I and my staff have taken unethical steps to unilaterally alter and affect DEFAC challenges the integrity of what I consider some of the most honest and dedicated employees I have ever had the opportunity to work with, and also calls into question the ability of the 31 independent and bi-partisan individuals who are performing a valuable service to the citizens of this state. Those are pretty bold and outrageous statements from two individuals who have never attended a DEFAC meeting or even made an inquiry to me as to how the process works.
The facts speak for themselves. Using the two most recent fiscal years as an example shows that the difference between the revenue projection adopted by the General Assembly using DEFAC numbers and the actual revenue collected by June 30th the following year were within 0.4 percent and -1.7 percent respectively. To come that close to a projection made a year in advance involving more than $6.6 billion dollars in a constantly changing economy should be applauded. And that is exactly what the rating agencies on Wall Street have done by recognizing Delawareâ€™s process as a model for the nation as recently this year and classifying Delaware as one of only seven states in the nation to have a Triple A bond rating.
I have been a member of DEFAC since its inception more than 30 years ago, and I take great pride in the quality of work and the end product derived from the DEFAC process. I am willing to put my reputation on the line to publicly state that it works, it works well and that the process is not â€śpoliticizedâ€ť as was recklessly suggested by Mr. Lee and Mr. Copeland.
Richard S. Cordrey
Secretary of Finance