Delaware Gov. John Carney Proposes 3.5 Percent Increase in State - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Governor Proposes 3.5 Percent Hike in Delaware Budget

Posted: Jan 25, 2018 12:42 PM Updated:
John Carney announces his $4.2 billion operating budget for FY 2019. John Carney announces his $4.2 billion operating budget for FY 2019.

DOVER, Del.- Democratic Gov. John Carney wants to increase Delaware's state operating budget by 3.5 percent in the next year, an election year proposal that includes pay raises for teachers and other state employees, more money for roads and buildings, and the partial restoration of cuts in grant funding to nonprofit organizations.

The $4.25 billion operating budget, which Carney unveiled Thursday, comprises part of a financial plan for the upcoming fiscal year that also includes a $677 million bond and capital improvements budget and a $41.7 million grant in aid budget. There are no tax increases included in Carney's financial plan.

Under Carney's proposal, state employees would receive a $1,000 pay increase, steps and 2 percent increase for public school educators, and support for 12-week paid parental leave.

"We need to invest in our employees. We're having a hard time competing with the private industry. We're having a real tough time on the correctional officers' front," he said.

Carney's plan also calls for spending $7.8 million on improvements at the Carvel State Office Building and steps to address a deferred maintenance backlog at state facilities.

Sen. Ernie Lopez (R-Lewes) said he believed the budget was "a good start," but noted there was plenty of time until the end of session in June to scrutinize the budget and state spending as a whole.

"We still have lots of innings to play. I'm just hoping we can play ball and get things together for the good of the state," he said.

Lawmakers missed their deadline to pass a budget last year after a proposal to hike personal income taxes failed.

The governor's proposal includes $41.7 million in grants for nonprofit organizations, community groups and volunteer fire companies, a powerful political constituency in Delaware. Those groups saw a 20 percent reduction in funding this year, though Carney's proposal does not restore Grant in Aid Funding to the level it was planned to have before last year's cuts.

Warren Jones with the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association said the cuts affected volunteer fire companies in different ways.

"A lot of companies right now are up against the wall, because of having to put more career staff on," he said.

The larger budget represents a 3.5 percent increase from the current spending plan, as opposed to an increase of less than a percent in the previous proposal. The budget proposal will be vetted by lawmakers on the Joint Finance Committee next month.



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