Last week, Richard Collins filed to serve as the representative of the 41st District in the Delaware House of Representatives.
Collins said he hopes to address the State’s finances, if elected.
“They’re approximately $190 million behind where we were in 2011,” he said. “We have a structural problem with our State income. The huge concern that I have — and I pay very close attention to what our General Assembly and the leadership of our government [do] — [they] are simply not addressing this serious situation.”
He stated that a state Department of Labor statistic indicated that fewer people were working at the end of 2013 than at the beginning of that year.
“That’s a time we were all led to believe we were in some sort of recovery. The administration, our General Assembly leaders and my opponent are doing nothing to address the structural problems of the Delaware economy. It’s time someone with some vision got into the game and tried to at least talk about some possible solutions.”
To address the issue, Collins said, he would look at State tax increases.
“Many of them were with the votes of my opponent. I would see if they have actually brought increased revenue. I could tell you that the estate tax has not. This is one of the big ones. It put a huge cost on people,” he said.
“It’s not raising any revenue, but what it has done is put a huge financial burden on family farmers, family businesspeople who have had to go out, pay a lot of money to restructure all of their affairs to try not to have their assets taken from their families when something happens.”
He added that he would also like to address the gross receipts tax in the state.
“I would look at the tax code and see if relief could be given in any way possible. I would certainly look at ways of giving tax incentives. We’ve been giving a huge amount of money to businesses like Fisker and Bloom. Rather than that, I’d look at creating some tax incentives for businesses to move here, but at the same time I would look at creating tax incentives for people who are already here.”
Collins said that, although Delaware has been good at attracting new business, it hasn’t done its best to keep the businesses it has.
“We have been one of the worst in the nation at creating employment among businesses that are already here. That’s crazy. We need to treat the businesses that are already here at least as well as brand-new ones and get them to employ people.”
He also hopes to address the state’s regulatory process.
“We need to totally reform how we do regulations. The problem that we have now is that the regulators have been given powers. They have the power; our elected officials don’t have much power. Without a majority vote by each house and the signature of the governor, they have no power — no more than anyone else,” he said.
“The regulators have been given the power to enact law on their own, all under the signature of one person — the secretary of that regulatory body. There are a variety of ideas I have for reforming that.”
Collins said the regulatory authority for state agencies should sunset every five years to make sure everything is kept in check.
“They should have to come in and explain to the General Assembly what they’ve done with their authority, and why they should be reauthorized to have that authority going forward. That would bring about an incredible amount of accountability that simply doesn’t exist anymore.
“Major regulations should come to the General Assembly for some sort of approval. It is not right that regulations, which have the same impact on us as laws — that include criminal, civil and administrative penalties, as high as $25,000 a day, along with prison time — it is not right that these regulators would be able to put these things in place under the signature of one man or woman, without virtually any knowledge of the citizens. There should be some sort of legislative review of these cases.”
Collins said that he also hopes to work on cutting State spending through land acquisitions.
“This State owns entirely too much land that is totally unproductive. I believe we own more land than any state in the nation on a percentage basis. I would stop any new purchases of open space. I’m not talking about the farm preservation program, but the fee-simple purchases where they just go out and buy land. That should end, unless it’s very specific, for a DelDOT highway project or something like that. But, for open space — no more.”
Although he has never held a political office before, Collins, a Republican, ran against incumbent 41st District Rep. John Atkins in the 2012 election.
“Last time, I lost by 69 votes. A huge factor, I think, was that I was not as well-known as my opponent. I believe that’s been put to rest this time. I’m certainly far better known now; I’ve established a lot of relationships that I didn’t have at that time. I’m very positive but not overconfident. It’s up to the voters to decide what they want.”
He has also been actively involved in government through the Positive Growth Alliance, of which he is the executive director.
“I’ve been doing it behind the scenes for years. [We have a] huge anti-capitalist majority in our state legislature. It’s time to try and get in there and try to reinstitute the ideas that made us prosperous in the past.”
Collins says that, as a native Sussex Countian, he’s in love with the county and its residents.
“I love the people. They are independent-minded. They are willing to stand on their own two feet and do what they can for themselves. They’re God-fearing. It’s a wonderful district, it really is. I’ve lived in Sussex County all my life. I just love it here. I really do. There can’t be a better place. I hope to have the chance to make a difference.”
As for campaigning, Collins said he hopes to start in the first part of June by going door to door to meet voters.
“I would be thrilled if they would like to contact me, hear their concerns, have some social get-togethers.”
Collins said that he hopes to be able to serve the residents of the 41st District, if they choose to elect him.
“I believe these are the types of ideas that we need to bring Delaware back to a place of prosperity. I believe in what I say,” he said. “If citizens will have the confidence in me to give me a shot, I will at least try. I won’t be the governor or the leader, but I believe just having the ability to speak to our elected folks every day, with some commonsense solutions, that maybe a difference could be made. I at least feel an obligation to try.”
Those who are interested in contacting Collins may do so by calling (302) 381-1610 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.