Budget bill goes to Carney, two other spending measures remain

By Matt Bittle
Posted 6/24/21

DOVER — One down, two to go.

The Senate passed the operating budget and an accompanying supplement Thursday, one day after the House did the same. The bills now go to Gov. John …

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Budget bill goes to Carney, two other spending measures remain

Posted

DOVER — One down, two to go.

The Senate passed the operating budget and an accompanying supplement Thursday, one day after the House did the same. The bills now go to Gov. John Carney.

The chambers still have to approve the capital budget and the grant-in-aid measure allocating funding to nonprofits, which will be voted on next week.

A spending plan must be in place by July 1, the start of the next fiscal year.

The operating budget totals $4.77 billion from the state’s General Fund, which consists of tax revenue and related income. In addition, there is a supplemental bill that allocates $221 million for one-time items, chiefly pay raises and pension increases.

Most state employees will see a $500 bump in their pay, as well as a $1,000 bonus, while pensioners will receive $500 bonuses and percentage increases.

The operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year totals about 4.9% more than the current one. Gov. Carney in January proposed a $4.71 billion operating budget, as well as a $36 million supplement.

The spending plan for the current fiscal year comes to $4.55 billion in ongoing expenditures.

Revenues have shot up over the past six months, and while that extra money prompts more calls for spending on this project or that program, lawmakers have sought to avoid building too much growth into the budget in the form of recurring expenses.

“This year’s budget process highlights so much of what makes Delaware a great state and why our way of governing consistently earns us a AAA bond rating,” Sen. Trey Paradee, a Dover Democrat and co-chair of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, said in a statement. “Even with the turbulence of the past year, we managed to carefully track revenue forecasts and fund much-needed programs and projects, all while keeping budget growth below 5%.

“Additionally, we added over $220 million to budget stabilization and the rainy day fund, bringing those totals to $538 million saved for future economic downturns. None of this would be possible without the diligence of our committee members and Controller General staff. I thank them for their hard work and all of my Senate colleagues for passing these bills today. Maintaining a strong, solvent, and equitable state starts here. I am proud of the work we have done, and I look forward to signing these bills with the governor soon.”

The budget received one vote against in each chamber, as well as two abstentions in the House, while the supplemental measure saw no opposition.

In a statement, Gov. Carney applauded passage.

“This is a responsible, sustainable financial plan that protects taxpayer dollars and invests in the future of our state,” he said. “In this budget, we’re investing more than ever in our classrooms, and in direct services for low-income students and English learners. These are the children who need our help the most.

“We’re adding to our budget reserves so we’ll again be ready if we face a crisis or revenue downturn. And we’re investing in our state workers, who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic since Day 1. I look forward to signing this budget soon.”