Capital Budget Committee Eyes Project Fund - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Capital Budget Committee Eyes Project Fund

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Lawmakers on Delaware's capital budget committee say they don't have a lot of money to work with.

But that didn't stop members of the committee from adding $24 million in pet projects Thursday to Gov. Jack Markell's proposed $385 million spending plan for proposed road and construction projects in the upcoming fiscal year.

"We have a lot more requests than we have money for," said committee co-chair Quinn Johnson, D-Middletown.

The lawmakers' wish list includes $400,000 for a Boys and Girls Club in Wilmington, $500,000 for park improvements in Wilmington, and $200,000 to explore expansion of a minor-league baseball park in Wilmington.

Lawmakers also want to give Delaware Technical and Community College $3 million more than Markell proposed, and an additional $1 million each to the University of Delaware and Delaware State University.

The committee is also considering stripping $7.5 million from the $10 million that Markell has proposed for the state strategic fund, which provides loans and grants to attract and retain businesses.

The money would be put back into a new jobs infrastructure fund that Markell proposed in 2011 to pay for infrastructure improvements that would benefit companies relocating or expanding in Delaware.

The Markell administration, meanwhile, has proposed spending an additional $8 million on improvements at the Port of Wilmington, on top of the governor's initial $10 million proposal.

Administration officials say the improvements will help keep the Wilmington port competitive with other ports in the region.

The additional port money would come from state funds that were freed up after local referenda on proposed school improvements and construction failed.

The proposal to spend additional money on the ports frustrated Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover. Bushweller complained that lawmakers are concerned about competition in the port industry while ignoring competition from neighboring states that has dealt a significant blow to Delaware's casino industry.

"We don't give them a dime of taxpayer money; instead we take money away from the casinos," he said, adding that the jobs of casino workers are just as important as the jobs of port workers.
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