House Passes Fiscal 2020 Operating Budget

DOVER – The House unanimously passed the fiscal 2020 operating budget Thursday, sending the $4.45 billion spending plan to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 225 was introduced on June 11, the earliest an operating budget has been filed in recent memory. The fiscal 2020 budget – a 4.24-percent increase from last year’s budget – fully funds school enrollment growth, cost increases associated with Medicaid growth, debt service, salary step increases for state workers, and other “door-openers.”

The House also unanimously passed House Bill 226, a supplemental spending bill that appropriates an additional $62 million for one-time operating expenditures.

“This budget is the result of months of hard work from the members of the Joint Finance Committee, staff and the countless advocates who come to Legislative Hall to make their case for many worthwhile programs,” said Rep. Quinn Johnson, D-Middletown, who chairs the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee.

“Delaware’s operating budget touches nearly every resident across the state, and we are proud to have put together a spending plan that maintains our core state services and even increases funding to many of these programs. We have an obligation to try to help our residents whenever possible, and I think we have done that while being fiscally responsible.”

The spending measures would invest strongly in multiple education initiatives that directly impact low-income students, English learners and ensuring educators have the resources they need to better help children succeed. The budget bills also would provide a $1,000 raise for all state workers, and provide $1.5 million in additional funding for the second-year implementation of the Department of Correction Independent Review recommendations.

It also would add:

  • $3.3 million to add 34 casework staff and contractual support in the Division of Family Services.
  • $3.2 million for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) due to decreased federal funding.
  • $3 million for Behavioral Health Consortium recommendations.
  • $2.2. million for SEED and Inspire scholarship programs’ growth and for the expansion of SEED to post-associate’s degree.
  • $500,000 to expand the High Needs Educator Student Loan Forgiveness Program.

HB 225 and HB 226 go to the Senate for consideration.