Gov. John Carney on Saturday countered the General Assembly’s failure to approve the first votefor a constitutional amendmentcalling for“budget smoothing” that sets aside money fortougher times.
Carney signed Executive Order 21 to implement recommendations of the advisory panel to DEFAC to study potential fiscal controls and budget smoothing mechanisms.
The move drew fire from an upset state Rep. John Kowalko, who compared the governor to actions of President Donald Trump. Kowalko was also a harsh critic of Carney’s predecessorJack Markell.
“In a dramatic example of a petulant personality that cannot get his way through the legitimate legislative process, Gov. Carney has chosen to emulate a Trumpian tactic that shows a healthy disdain for the democratic principle of separation of powers,” Kowalko claimed. ” After failing to get support for his balanced budget constitutional amendment (HB 460), the governor has signed an executive order today, the last day of the legislative session, attempting to force the same mandated budget cuts onto Delawareans through his preparation of next year’s budget bill. In this blatantly disrespectful attempt to abrogate power from the legislature, the governor even barred members of the public from attending the press conference where he signed the executive order.”
Carney did announce the decision to sign the bill on Saturday and said he would be open to questions from the media following the signing.
The order will create a benchmark budgeting mechanism, and a Budget Stabilization Fund for budget planning, to help the State of Delaware to take a more sustainable, long-term approach to annual budgeting.
The revised budget estimating process could put Carney on a collision course with some General Assembly members who are satisfied with the current process that is prone to wide swings in estimated revenue. The revised formula takes into a count a wider range of factors over a longer time period.
Carney and Wilmington corporate lawyer Michael Houghton, of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council, issued the following statements on the Order following Saturday’s signing:
“Over the past several decades, we’ve seen Delaware’s budget go through good times and bad times,” saidCarney. “As every Delaware family knows, you’re supposed to save some of your money during the good times so you can make it through when money gets tight. This executive order holds state government to the same standard. It’ll even things out so when a bad economy comes along, we won’t see massive cuts in services or dramatic tax hikes. This is the responsible thing to do for taxpayers who rightly expect us to manage their money wisely.”
“I’m disappointed that we were not able to structurally improve the budget process like our committee recommended. It would have made life more predictable for nonprofits, fire companies and others relying on State funds and avoided the unhealthy ‘feast or famine’ fiscal cycle we are seeing,” said Houghton, chair of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council. “As Chair of the Advisory Panel that recommended the changes to the General Assembly, I want to thank Governor Carney for stepping up and initiating changes that more responsibly align State spending with revenues through his executive order.”
Legislators in Carney’s party did not bring the proposed amendment to the vote. Reports indicated concerns that the process would starve funding for social services for the poor and that the measure catered to corporate interests that were seeking to rein in spending.
Click here to learn more about the Executive Order on budget smoothing.