Concerned that a declining business climate in Delaware is hurting job creation and seeking greater transparency and accountability in state government, Chris Kenny, CEO and president of Kenny Family ShopRites, has helped form a new non-partisan public policy and political advocacy organization called A Better Delaware.
Chris Kenny is the son of Bernie Kenny, founder of Kenny Family ShopRites. Although his affiliation with A Better Delaware is unrelated to his day-to-day duties at the family’s six Delaware stores, he admitted there was a connection that inspired him and co-chairman Ben duPont to create the group.
Kenny explained that a potential new soda/sugar tax is currently being studied by the state and that a similar law passed in Philadelphia in 2017 has been burdensome to retailers and failed to meet estimated revenue projections. Kenny says that, if enacted, Delaware will have the first statewide soda/sugar tax in the nation and the tax will lead to job losses.
Other issues related to the supermarket business include a proposed personal income tax increase and statewide property tax increase and a recent elevation of the state’s real estate transfer tax.
“Take a look at the proposed personal income tax, which is going to affect small businesses, S-corps and LLCs, which are the real business engines of any state, especially our state,” Kenny proclaimed. He continued by pointing out the negative impacts of an increased property tax, including the decimation of disposable income for many individuals and families. Kenny sees increase in lodging and hotel taxes – already some of the highest in the nation – as a blow to Delaware’s tourism industry.
Those issues represent just a sample of what Kenny and duPont, a local businessman and entrepreneur whose father served as governor of the First State from 1977-1985, wanted to achieve when they established A Better Delaware earlier this year.
According to Kenny, Delaware now ranks 44th among the 50 states in fiscal health. It also ranks eighth for the highest debt and unfunded retirement costs for public sector workers.
“We spend more than we take in and seem to constantly be seeking new ways to tax our people in order to make up the difference. We have the nation’s highest corporate income tax, and have the 10th highest personal income tax rate,” Kenny, who is also an attorney, noted. “Because of anti-job economic policies adopted by lawmakers and regulators, Delaware now ranks dead last in the nation in the Jobs & Opportunity Index established by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.
“The mission is to educate the public, mobilize the grassroots, and hold politicians accountable. We think with those three guiding principles, we can be effective to help move us in a slightly different direction than where we’ve been going, so that we can bend the curve back and get us into a much better situation… that we know the First State can be. We know Delaware can be first.”
Along with Kenny and duPont, A Better Delaware’s staffers include executive director Zoe Callaway and treasurer Sue Casscells. The group will be holding an informational seminar on Saturday November 9 at 9:00 a.m. during this year’s MAFTO gala weekend honoring Acme Markets president Jim Perkins at the Ocean Casino resort in Atlantic City, NJ. A Better Delaware can be reached at its via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.