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House Sends $5B Operating Budget to Carney

The House passed a $5.1 billion operating budget for fiscal 2023 on Thursday, approving a spending plan that provides a meaningful raise for state workers and retirees, and invests in families throughout the state, schools, healthcare workers, firefighters, educators and people with disabilities.

The budget, along with a $379 million supplemental spending plan consisting of one-time expenditures and contingency funds, now head to Governor Carney for his signature, having both passed the Senate on Tuesday.

The fiscal 2023 budget represents a 6.8% increase from the current budget. SB 250 would add nearly $19 million to Delaware’s Purchase of Care program, a subsidy that provides support for early childhood and after-school education for children from birth through age 12 living within 185% of the Federal Poverty Limit. The funds help low-income families pay for their childcare so that parents or guardians can work or receive workforce training.

According to the University of Delaware’s Biden School of Public Policy and Administration, as of March 2019, Purchase of Care subsidized early childhood and after-school education and care for more than 15,000 children, with 65% of them 5 years or younger.

The budget also adds $16.9 million to address recommendations from the Public School Transportation Committee, a group consisting of legislative and state budget officials, public and charter school personnel, and bus contractor representatives. Of that amount, $11.7 million will increase the minimum hourly rate for bus drivers. A workforce shortage that predated the pandemic and a brief strike at a major busing contractor threatened to cause severe disruptions for thousands of school children.

SB 250 also increases the reimbursement rates for direct support professionals serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The $16.5 million increase will fulfill the promise of phased-in progress toward funding benchmarks established in the Michael McNesby Act, a 2018 law that required the state to increase the rates paid to direct support professionals to improve recruitment and retention of these positions. That funding increase will result in an additional $27.5 million in federal matching funds.

Other notable highlights in the budget bills include:

  • $104 million to provide a 3% pension benefit increase for former state workers who retired between June 30, 1992 and June 30, 2017 and a 2% increase for those who retired after June 30, 2017.
  • Approximately $55 million to help keep state employee wages competitive through increases ranging from 2.3% to 9% for the lowest pay grades, in addition to negotiated collective bargaining unit and statutory step increases.
  • $38 million to increase pension benefits for volunteer firefighters, the first pension increase of its kind since the program was established in 1986.
  • $21 million to fund start-up costs for the Delaware Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. 
  • $14.2 million to fund targeted education and support services for Wilmington students, as recommended by the Redding Consortium for Educational Equity and the Wilmington Learning Collaborative.
  • $8 million to continue increasing mental health supports in Delaware elementary schools.
  • $4.7 million to restore the Senior Property Tax Credit to a maximum of $500.
  • $3.6 million to increase rates for private duty nurses and home health care workers.
  • $2 million to create a Substitute Teacher Block Grant that will help school districts address teacher shortages through the hiring of full-time substitutes.
Senate Bill 250 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Paradee, Ennis, Lockman, Sturgeon, Lawson, LopezSenate Passed 19-2. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson WilsonHocker, Bonini
Carson, Bentz, Bolden, K.Williams, Briggs King, HenselyHouse Passed 38-0-3. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Friel Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Mitchell Morrison Osienski Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton  Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Spiegelman Vanderwende YearickAbsent: Moore, Minor-Brown, Smyk
Current Status: Sent to Governor

Senate Bill 251 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Paradee, Ennis, Lockman, Sturgeon, Lawson, LopezSenate Passed 21-0. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Bonini Hocker Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson WilsonNone
Carson, Bentz, Bolden, K.Williams, Briggs King, HenselyHouse Passed 38-0-3. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Friel Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Mitchell Morrison Osienski Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton  Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Spiegelman Vanderwende YearickAbsent: Moore, Minor-Brown, Smyk
Current Status: Sent to Governor

“The Joint Finance Committee had a difficult task of balancing numerous, worthwhile funding requests against the need to be responsible. We’ve been able to work together to provide a real raise for state employees and retirees and fund various programs that provide necessary services to residents up and down our state,” said Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. William Carson. “I’m proud of this budget and what it represents to Delawareans – that we value our workers, teachers, seniors, bus drivers, healthcare workers, parents and children. I hope that our investments make a real difference in people’s lives.”

“I want to thank my colleagues in the House for voting today to pass a fiscally responsible budget for the coming year that makes prudent investments in the human infrastructure that keeps our state running smoothly,” said Sen. Trey Paradee, chair of JFC. “This spending plan will address several of the difficulties our state experienced during the height of the pandemic, as well as help thousands of working families who continue to struggle with the lingering economic impacts of the worst public health crisis our state has ever faced. The members of the Joint Finance Committee and the staff of both the Controller General’s Office and the Office of Management and Budget deserve a lot of credit for getting these bills across the finish line.”

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