Delaware General Assembly passes $69.4M grants-in-aid bill

By Joseph Edelen
Posted 7/1/22

DOVER — On the final day of legislative session, lawmakers in both chambers of the Delaware General Assembly voted to approve the largest grants-in-aid bill in state history on …

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Delaware General Assembly passes $69.4M grants-in-aid bill

Posted

DOVER — On the final day of legislative session, lawmakers in both chambers of the Delaware General Assembly voted to approve the largest grants-in-aid bill in state history on Thursday.

This year’s $69.4 million grants-in-aid funds will largely go toward senior center rehabilitation, paramedic program operations, statewide levy courts, and maintenance for fire companies across the state. The bill is over $6.1 million more than last year’s, which was the previously largest grants-in-aid bill in state history.

The Fiscal Year 2023 Grants-In-Aid Bill, or Senate Bill 252, was passed in the Senate, and upon passage, was ran in the House under a suspension of rules. The bills passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.

Lawmakers in the Joint Finance Committee met Tuesday to put the finishing touches on the appropriations for the state’s nonprofit organizations. Since Feb. 1, the Joint Finance Committee met periodically to discuss and formulate aspects of two of Delaware’s financial budget bills for the upcoming fiscal year, including the grants-in-aid bill. The other was the 2023 Appropriations Act, which set a $5.1 billion budget for FY 23 and was signed by Gov. John Carney on Tuesday.

During the consideration of the grants-in-aid bill on the Senate floor, Sen. Bryant Richardson, R-Seaford, said there were some funds in the bill that he did not support. He said he was unhappy with the $37,000 allocation to Planned Parenthood of Delaware, as he has been outspoken against abortion in the state. Sen. Richardson, however, said he would support the bill as it had many positive allocations, including to the Delmarva Home of Hope, which is a faith-based nonprofit that assists single mothers dealing with substance abuse. The organization is receiving $525,000 under the legislation.

Sen. Colin Bonini, R-Dover, asked Joint Finance Committee Chair Trey Paradee, D-Dover, if there were any updates on a previous commitment to establish a committee to specifically deal with grants-in-aid allocations. Sen. Paradee said there was legislation floating around that would have created such a committee, but there was no update as of the final day of legislation.

Afterward, Sen. Bonini made it clear that he would support the legislation, but not before echoing some concerns.

“In the last several years, there have been some grantees who are basically political in nature ... They’re advocacy groups, it could be advocacy groups on both sides,” Sen. Bonini said.
“I would hope that we could get to where this bill is going to those organizations that are actually providing services. I’ve noticed a slight increase in that. I understand we can’t be perfect on all of them.”

In the House, Joint Finance Committee Vice-Chair William Carson, D-Smyrna, thanked the chamber’s committee members, specifically commending Rep. David Bentz, D-Christiana, Rep. Stephanie T. Bolden, D-Wilmington, Rep. Kim Williams, D-Newport, Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, and Rep. Kevin Hensley, R-Townsend, for their work on the legislation. Rep. Carson also thanked the entire chamber for making recommendations for grants-in-aid allocations throughout the process.

“This grant-in-aid will provide some much-needed funds for volunteer fire companies, senior centers and nonprofits,” Rep. Carson said.

The FY 23 Grants-In-Aid Bill will provide $28.2 million for the Office of the Secretary, emergency medical services and senior centers. Of that figure, $8.5 million will go to statewide senior centers. Additionally, $14.2 million will go to statewide paramedic program operations.

The second section of the bill allocates $32.5 million for one-time appropriations and a variety of nonprofit community agencies. Of the one-time appropriations, $6.4 million will be given to statewide fire companies and public service ambulance companies and $1 million will be given to each county for paramedics. Nonprofits dealing in arts, history, culture and tourism were allotted $2,494,869, health and labor organizations received $4,424,463, family and youth service organizations received $6,114,325, and neighborhood and community service nonprofits received $6,325,016.

Under the third section of the bill, fire companies across the state were allotted $8.1 million for the maintenance and operation of equipment, ambulances, rescue trucks, aerial or platform trucks, and funding for insurance rebates for volunteer fire companies.

The fourth section of the bill allotted $498,141 to veterans’ organizations, with the majority of the money going to American Legion posts throughout the state and the Delaware American Legion Foundation.

Gov. John Carney signed the grants-in-aid bill just prior to 9 p.m. Thursday with House and Senate leadership by his side.