House Passes Fiscal 2019 Budget

DOVER – The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the fiscal 2019 operating budget Tuesday, sending it to Governor John Carney’s desk for his signature well ahead of the June 30 deadline.

The $4.27 billion spending plan maintains Delaware’s core services to residents while increasing programs for children, low-income families, correctional officers, seniors and people dealing with addiction. The bipartisan legislative Joint Finance Committee worked during the past four months to craft the budget, which passed the Senate last week.

JFC Co-Chair Rep. Melanie George Smith said the fiscal 2019 budget represents a mixture of smart growth and investments in Delaware while being fiscally prudent and responsible by setting aside 1 percent – $47 million – of funding for use in future years as needed.

“My colleagues on the Joint Finance Committee worked really hard in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that we used the taxpayers’ dollars in a fiscally responsible way,” said Rep. Smith, D-Bear. “We have been able to meet our core obligations and provide vital services that Delawareans rely on, while restoring funding we were forced to cut in more difficult years and putting funds in reserve for future years. This spending plan is a testament to responsible budgeting.”

JFC Co-Chair Sen. Harris B. McDowell IV applauded the budget process, which resulted in a constitutionally mandated balanced budget well before the June 30 deadline.

“The House’s vote is a satisfying cap on the fastest budget process I have seen in my 42 years in state government. But the expediency of this year’s process didn’t come at the expense of prudence or attention to detail,” said Sen. McDowell. “The budget that the House voted on today invests more in state employees’ livelihoods for the first time in years, increases special education funding for students that were previously left out, and works to address staffing shortages in our correctional system. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the House for reaffirming those priorities today.”

Highlights from the fiscal 2019 budget include:

Overall

  • Limit appropriation to 97 percent, setting 1 percent ($47 million) aside for future use.
  • $1,000 raise for state employees.
  • Funds salary step increases for education employees.
  • Establishes dedicated Delaware State Police Special Operations Response Team (SORT).

Education

  • $6.4 million to provide basic special education (K-3) and reading teachers (K-4) to our youngest students.
  • $8.8 million to address the increases in enrollment in the purchase of care program.
  • $3.8 million for early learning centers growth.
  • $6 million for opportunity grants (providing support to low-income students and/or ELL students).

Corrections

  • $10.1 million to increase starting salary to $43,000, bringing it more in line with surrounding states (a 22-percent increase from fiscal 2017).
  • $2.6 million for career ladder for employees, encouraging COs to stay in DOC long-term.
  • $2.3 million to adopt DOC independent review recommendations (staff training, court/security transportation, cognitive behavioral therapy for offenders).
  • Funds for the provider community serving people with disabilities.

Public Health and Family Services

  • $4.2 million for 30 new casework staff in Division of Family Services to investigate child abuse and neglect claims.
  • $2 million for 29 new Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services to meet staffing needs at six facilities, reducing overtime.
  • $2 million to restore Delaware Prescription Drug Assistance Program.
  • Provides 1,100 Naloxone kits for first responders.
  • $285,000 to Division of Family Services for the development of Plans of Safe Care for infants with prenatal substance exposure.

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