Revenue forecast shows nearly $51 million gain

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The latest forecast from the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council indicates nearly $51 million in additional revenues are available in the next fiscal year’s budget.

Projected fiscal 2020 revenues are up more than $146 million since September, Delaware House Republicans reported.

The revenue estimates are plugged into spending for the upcoming fiscal years, which starts on July 1.

State House Minority Leader Danny Short, R-Seaford, who is also a member of DEFAC, said a portion of the surplus should be spent on one-time expenditures to upgrade failing infrastructure, like roads and drainage.

“We won’t be able to make those investments when the economy slows down,” Short said. “However, we should be banking at least half the surplus as a hedge to maintain services for when the economy slackens.”

Short said revenue estimates beyond the upcoming fiscal year are already showing signs of a downturn.

Delaware uses 98 percent of the revenue generated by taxes and fees and uses the remainder as a “rainy day” fund that helps the state maintain a Triple-A bond rating that reduces borrowing costs.

Efforts to set aside additional funds for use in tougher times through a constitutional amendment were rejected last year, despite bipartisan support.

Republicans, like Short, have also favorusing excess funds as an alternative to raising the gas tax, tolls or other fees.

Others say transportation improvements should come from the Transportation Trust Fund. Republicans did get a compromise in moving some DelDOT salary costs out of the trust fund.

In the past, Republicans have proposed moving all transportation salaries out of the trust fund, a move that would force cuts or zero growth in budgets in other areas of state government.

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