Carney signs $5.1 billion state budget

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No taxes cuts in bill that includes employee, school bus driver pay raises

Gov. John Carney signed a $5.1 billion operating state budget and a $379 million supplemental budget on Tuesday afternoon.

The budget passed the House with no nay votes. State Sen. Colin Bonini, R-Dover, a marketing representative for an engineering company, continued his tradition of voting against the state budget. He was joined by GOP Sussex County Sen. Gerald Hocker, a Sussex County grocery store owner.

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“This is a sustainable budget that makes investments where they’re needed most, including public education and our higher education institutions,” said  “We’re also making historic movement of the merit pay scales in state government to make our workforce stronger and to further recognize the great work that state employees do every day. We also will be funding the statewide paid family leave program. All of these steps will help ensure Delaware is the best place to live, work, and raise a family. I want to thank the chairs and members of the Joint Finance and Bond Bill committees for their thoughtful work on this budget.”

“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, D-Smyrna, a retired DelDOT and Town of Middletown employee. “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.”

The fiscal 2023 budget represents a 6.8% increase from the current budget, above-average annual growth. The state is sitting on upwards of an estimated $1 billion surplus. Republicans were unsuccessful in pushing for tax cuts for businesses and individuals.

Legislators quickly approved a $300 payment for most adults in the state earlier in the session. The move came in response to rising gas prices and bond provisions that barred the state from declaring a holiday on the gas tax,

The budget bill 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.

The budget subsidizes early childhood and after-school education for more than 15,000 students.

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. The state faces a driver shortage that predated the pandemic. There was also a brief strike at a bus contractor.

SB 250 also increases the reimbursement rates for direct support professionals serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The $16.5 million increase phases in 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 the 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 –
  • – $4.7 million to restore the Senior Property Tax Credit to a maximum of $500.

Click here to view the Fiscal Year 2023 operating budget.

Click here to view the Fiscal Year 2023 one-time supplemental appropriation.

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