Gov. John Carney presented a proposed $4.7 billion budget that includes a small raise for state workers, along with additional funding for schools and new courts buildings in Kent and Sussex counties.
“When the Covid-19 crisis hit, we were able to balance our budget without cutting critical services because we kept our promise to build a long-term, sustainable financial plan. This budget proposal will continue to protect taxpayer dollars while making investments where they’re needed most,” Carney stated. “Our priorities remain the same. We will rebuild our economy and create good jobs, invest in our public schools for all Delaware children, and strengthen communities across our state. This proposal includes the largest infrastructure program in Delaware history, historic investments to support disadvantaged students, and additional investments to clean up our drinking water and preserve farmland.”
Carney praised the budget stabilization program that will set aside two percent of tax revenues in anticipation of future downturns. The state was able to avoid layoffs or cuts to existing programs that occurred elsewhere.
The budget stabilization money helped the state weather the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The state did receive more than $900 million in federal CARES money to fight the virus that was used to aid the unemployed and provided assistance to businesses affected by the virus.
Carney proposed a total of $260 million for one-time capital projects that will aid the state’s construction workers.
Also proposed was a $50 million clean water fund aimed at improving the quality of drinking water and waterways.
The Delaware Prosperity Partnership, a private agency that handles economic development, will continue to receive $2 million from the state. The Strategic Fund, which offers grants used in expanding or retaining jobs received $20 million.
Carney proposed a $10 million increase in Opportunity Funding that adds teaching and other resources for at-risk students and those learning English.
The budget is expected to draw fire from fiscal hawks that would like to see a zero increase in spending and progressives who will lobby for more funds for social programs.
Critics also point to state spending in Delaware ranking high in comparison with other states.
See the budget presentation below for more details.