The passage of an increase in the minimum wage along party lines triggered a temporary stalemate in the Delaware General Assembly that ran into Sunday morning.
A compromise on the base wage broke the logjam and a capital improvement budget was sent to Gov. John Carney as the session concluded.
Democrats pushed through the original minimum wage measure, but the GOP held up the Bond Bill for capital improvements to schools and other facilities and Grant-in-Aid for nonprofits, Delaware Public Media and other outlets reported. The measures require a three-fourths vote.
Later on Sunday morning, legislators passed a compromise minimum wage bill that raises pay to $8.75 an hour, an increase of 50 cents anhour, rising to $9.25 an hour the following year, unless the General Assembly stops that provisions.
The revised bill also contained a lower youth wage and training wage. Some Democrats, apparently upset with their GOP colleagues voted no.
Republicans and businesspeople claimed the original bill would cripple low margin businesses, such as restaurants.
At the same time, public sentiment for a higher minimum wage remains high, with a 2016 University of Delaware poll indicating that a majority favor a $15 an hour minimum wage.
Neighboring Maryland is phasing in a minimum wage that could rise to $15 an hour over the next few years.
Delaware and other states have seen a growing labor shortage in the past couple of years and many employers are paying $10 or more as a starting wage.
The drama came as a surprise to some after a relatively smooth session to date.
A Twitter post from the News Journal statehouse reporter on the testy legislative process that stretched proceedings well into Sunday:
I think it was Blotto von Blismark who said:
Never watch sausage being made. Never stay up all night w/sausage. Never watch sausage fight as the sun comes up. Never watch sausage try to make up before breakfast. Never write about what you learned watching sausage all night #deleg
— Scott Goss (@ScottGossDel) July 1, 2018
Goss also reported that the Grant-in-Aid bill which had been held up, was passed and sent to the governor.
Despite, the smoother session, several pieces of legislation were left until Saturday, leading to marathon sessions and frayed tempers. The final day has become something of a Delaware tradition, with one lobbyist bringing ice cream and legislators paying tribute to retiringcolleagues.
However, the last-minute turmoil has drawn fire from critics who see the rituals and last-minute maneuvers as an anachronism in the 21st century
Feathers were also ruffled on the left-progressive side of General Assembly Democrats when Gov. John Carney signed an executive order that would change the current budget estimation process and add a budget stabilization fund that would sock away revenues in good times. (See story below).
The governor has the power to make such moves, but legislators could also choose to ignore the numbers.
The state saw a nearly half a billion dollar gain in revenues from a year ago. The shortfall produced a stalemate last year at this time with Republicans blocking a tax hike and getting a few concessions.
The General Assembly is seeing more of a partisan divide with conservative downstate Republicans battling Democrats with more liberal views in northern Delaware.
(Correction: Earlier versions indicated the minimum wage would inrease for only one year)