Legislation comes amid rising surplus projections in latest DEFAC report
DOVER – Following the earliest introduction of a budget bill in recent memory, the state Senate voted today to approve a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2019 more than a week ahead of its constitutional deadline.
Legislators returned to session in January with forecasts from the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) projecting a substantial rebound in revenue from FY 2018. Working from those projections and Governor John Carney’s proposed budget, the Joint Finance Committee developed a budget bill that features a mix of new investments and savings for the future.
Sen. Harris McDowell, D-Wilmington, who chaired this year’s Joint Finance Committee hearings, says the centerpiece of this year’s budget is a balance between new investments and fiscal responsibility.
“This year’s budget process was the fastest in my 42 years in state government, but we were careful not to sacrifice prudence and attention to detail for expediency,” said McDowell. “We made a lot of tough decisions in 2017 that have allowed us this year’s checkbook in a way that is both fiscally and socially responsible. The budget that we passed today invests more in state employees’ livelihoods for the first time in years, increases special education funding for students that were previously left out, and works to address staffing shortages in our correctional system. I’m grateful to my collegues on the Joint Finance Committee, to the Controller General and the Office of Management & Budget, and to all of the staff who worked diligently this year to get this budget done.”
Rep. Melanie George Smith, D-Bear, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, echoed Sen. McDowell’s praise for the budget committee’s speedy work.
“My colleagues on the Joint Finance Committee worked really hard in a bipartisan fashion to make sure we best used the taxpayers’ dollars in a fiscally responsible way,” said Rep. Smith, D-Bear. “It is a difficult and painstaking process to assess Delaware’s budgetary requests but I am proud of the effort we have put forth and I am so happy we were able to introduce and pass the budget bill in the Senate in record time. I look forward to the legislation being heard in the House.”
Highlights from this year’s budget include:
Public health and family services
The General Assembly still needs to pass additional appropriation legislation, including the bond bill, grant-in-aid bill, and a supplement to the budget that includes one-time spending.
The bill will now head to the House and, if passed without amendment, will land on the Governor’s desk several days before the June 30 deadline.