Del. Lawmakers Have $35 Million Less to Spend - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Lawmakers Have $35 Million Less to Spend

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Lawmakers meeting in the Joint Finance Committee Hearing Room (Photo: WBOC) Lawmakers meeting in the Joint Finance Committee Hearing Room (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del.- State leaders learned this week they have $35.3 million less to spend than they had when they met to mark up the budget last month.

The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council projects that Delaware will have about $194 million more to spend than what the state spent last year, but also $44.8 million less that what Gov. Jack Markell wrote his proposed budget for.

That leaves lawmakers, who write the actual budget, with $35.3 million to cut out of Markell's proposed bottom line.

John Gallo is executive director of Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity. He recently sent staff to sit in on a Joint Finance Committee hearing at Legislative Hall.

"We're supporting affordable housing," he said. "That's one thing we want to make sure is strongly supported through legislation. To make sure that they know there's people out there who need affordable housing. We're probably the best program in town. We're doing zero percent interest mortgages for 30 years without partner families."

Next fiscal year starts July 1. Lawmakers need to pass a new budget before then. Cuts could come out of funds like affordable housing. Those are funds that support organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel, sits on the budget committee, and he says tax projects are not delivering the numbers the JFC thought they would.

"I don't think you're going to see any new spending," he told WBOC. "I don't think that's in the cards right now, because that's going to load up and load the budget up."

All of this means there just is not enough new money in the budget to pay for a lot of what people are asking for.

Those requests include more money for things like early childhood education and after school programs. They also include more funding for the prison system because, prison officials say, the inmate population is growing. All of them could be out of question.

Gallo says his advocacy is just so lawmakers can make good decisions.

"We just want to make sure that they have good facts," he said. "To make sure that if they are supporting programs that they're using the facts versus assumptions."

The committee meets all week to make decisions about what stays and what goes for Fiscal Year 2016-2017.

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