Delaware Budget Woes Force Leaders to Halt Budget Committee's Wo - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Budget Woes Force Leaders to Halt Budget Committee's Work

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Majority leaders in Delaware's House and Senate have instructed the legislature's budget-writing committee to stop its work after roughly $30 million in cuts to state agencies and programs were approved on Tuesday.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and Senate president David McBride on Wednesday instructed the Democratic co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee to cancel a Thursday meeting so leaders in both parties could continue negotiations on raising additional revenue, likely in the form of tax increases, to balance the upcoming budget.

The move comes just a day after tens of millions of dollars were slashed in funding for state agencies and programs, with public health and education seeing significant reductions and JFC members approved getting rid of the state Board of Education entirely.

"The cuts they did yesterday are very severe and very problematic for a lot of people and it's only $30 million and they still have a long way to go," Schwartzkopf told reporters during a news conference.

Financial projections have shown Delaware has a revenue shortfall of more than $380 million that needs to be balanced under an operating budget. Gov. John Carney, as part of his $4.1 billion budget proposal, has asked for lawmakers to approve hiking personal income tax rates to help fill the deficit.

Schwartzkopf said a deal was struck with Republican lawmakers to raise corporate franchise tax rates for the largest firms incorporated in Delaware, a move that will net more than $110 million, while eliminating the estate tax.

But since a deal can still be truck over the personal income tax proposal, Schwartzkopf said he doesn't think JFC should continue to make cuts and cause alarm for many Delawareans.

"I'm hoping when we start meeting on Tuesday, we can come together in a bi-partisan manner and come up with some solutions," he said.

But some Delawareans don't think personal income tax rates should be hiked.

Kari Mihm of Dover said she works two jobs to help support her parents. With reductions made to her mother's medicaid checks and her father having cancer, Mihm said she can't afford to have more money coming out of her paychecks.

"We barely make it. I make $12 dollars and hour and I still can't make it after taxes," she said.

Nina Graves of Lincoln said she is retired but still works as a teacher and doesn't think the state government should take more money from Delawareans' income.

"There's got to be a way to not take it out on the taxpayers, especially those that are on limited incomes," she said.

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