Dems Pass Resolutions to Study Spending, Health Care Cost Drivers

DOVER — Seeking a long-term solution to Delaware’s structural financial issues, Democratic lawmakers have introduced and passed resolutions to study potential fiscal controls and health care growth in an effort to find ways to contain costs.

Under these bills, an advisory panel and task force will be directed to take a deep dive into cost containment strategies and assess how to improve health care quality at reduced costs in order to pinpoint areas of growth and efficiency.

Democrats introduced these resolutions, which were developed in negotiations with Republican leaders during the legislative session, after dialogues with GOP leaders had halted.

House Joint Resolution 8, sponsored by House Leadership and Rep. Quinton Johnson, will look to safeguard that taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly and outline Delaware’s historic budget practices.

The resolution mandates the creation of an advisory panel under the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC). The panel would include participation from members of the public, Department of Finance, Treasurer’s Office and the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council to develop a specific report analyzing revenue, appropriation limits and the benefits of a stabilization fund to store excess revenue among other issues.

Health care and education costs have been driving growth in Delaware in recent years. According to the state health department, Delaware’s health care spending per capita is higher than the national average. Health care costs amount to one-quarter, about $1 billion, of Delaware’s budget. 

In conjunction with the Department of Health and Social Services Secretary, the health care spending task force under House Joint Resolution 7 would analyze payment reform and health care costs in an effort to implement an annual benchmark. The benchmark would help stakeholders improve the health of Delawareans by finding ways to improve health service quality at reduced costs.

Additionally, a bipartisan effort from Rep. Earl Jaques and Rep. Joe Miro looks at the possibility of consolidating school districts and what benefits consolidation could bring. HCR 39 creates a task force to study district consolidation, and look at the challenges, benefits and financial impacts that could make structural changes to help save the state money in the long-term.  

School enrollment and personnel growth is a significant demand on the state budget. According to statistics from the Governor’s Office, from the 2015 to 2016 school year to today, special education enrollment grew by 8 percent. Overall enrollment since 2008 has grown by over 100,000 from 124,903 to 136, 709 this year.  Additionally, agency personnel positions have decreased while school district employment increased by nearly 3,000 educators and staff over the last eight years.