Gov. Carney signs FY23 budget as lawmakers prepare to wrap up legislation session
DOVER, Del. – Delaware has $5 billion to work with in Fiscal Year 2023, with the signage of a budget by Governor John Carney.
“I think the biggest, most important thing, is the responsible way we used the extraordinary revenues that were available. So, a lot of money went to one time things, like a $500 bonus for state employees,” said Gov. Carney.
Gov. Carney says the budget will propel the First State on issues like supporting the youngest, and oldest, Delawareans.
“[This year’s retirement funding] won’t create what we call door openers next year – an obligation for $25 million when we might not have the revenue. They were fully responsible about that. We have the rainy day fund, and we have the budget stabilization fund on top of that,” said Gov. Carney. “Our investments in education are the ones that are going to pay off in the long term. Funding programs for disadvantaged children and English learners was a priority for us.”
And, Gov. Carney says he hopes the next budget will continue to bolster state employees’ salaries in the program’s second year. “We’re just losing the competition within the marketplace right now. We’ve got lots of vacancies in every state agency, particularly with nursing and those types of things,” he said.
Lawmakers Applaud “Well Balanced” Budget
Other lawmakers, like Representative Ruth Briggs King, are applauding what she calls a well balanced budget. She says it contains important funding for initiatives to support the state and its citizens.
“We have put money away in this budget so that next year when times may not be as good, especially when we’re facing a potential recession, we’re ensuring that we’re not going to have to make a lot of cuts next year,” said Rep. Briggs King. “Everybody didn’t get everything they wanted. That typically happens. But, we were able to push the needle forward on a lot of issues important in Delaware.”
Rep. Briggs King says in particular, the budget will help to continue supporting Delaware’s retirees. “They have been hit really hard by inflationary times,” she said. “Seeing that we’ve been able to do things for the Elder Tax Credit for our veterans that have retired in Delaware full time – those kinds of things.”
The Representative also says many of the one-off budget items will help the state in the long run. “Using that money to take care of some infrastructure or other things one time, passing a good amount of that money over to bond bills so that we can work on some projects,” said Rep. Briggs King.
Senator Laura Sturgeon says she is also happy with the budget, and progress she says the state will be able to make with it. “We finally fully funded the McNesby Act. That is money that helps support people with intellectual disabilities. It’s something that this General Assembly made a commitment to several years back,” she said.
Other key budget items for the Senator include increasing affordable child care for Delawareans. “We know that many Delawareans are struggling to afford child care. That’s going to be a huge part of economy – people coming back and getting back into the workforce,” said Sen. Sturgeon.
The budget is 7.7% larger than it was last fiscal year. Rep. Briggs King says while lawmakers typically try to keep that kind of growth at 5% or less, it’s a product of our stressed economy. “It is the largest budget increase that I’ve ever seen. That’s concerning, but I think in these inflationary times, we needed to address some employment concerns, some concerns for transportation,” she said. “When you’re facing inflation – the highest in 42 years – then you know that you’re going to have that built into the budget.”
Preparing For Next Session
The signing of the budget also marks the second-to-last day of the 2022 Delaware General Assembly Session. “I think this is that time of the year when everybody’s working on that final push to get things through. We know we have some legislators retiring. So, there’s usually some legacy legislation to leave behind,” said Rep. Briggs King.
Rep. Briggs King says, next session, she has her sights set on developing affordable housing and the workforce in Sussex County. Beyond that, she says she wants to continue work on making local government more transparent. “I do think that over the next year and a half, I want to bring us back to including more transparency in government and what we do, making sure that the voting process is fair to all, and protect that right and that vote,” said Rep. Briggs King.
For Sen. Sturgeon, next year she says she will be continuing to push for increased Medicade reimbursements for private duty nurses. Those reimbursements haven’t been raised in nearly 20 years. “Private duty nurses, direct care, and personal care attendants or assistance were looking for an increase. That is another area that is much needed,” said Sen. Sturgeon.
Boosting education quality in the First State, is also a top priority for the Senator in the next session. “I’m going to keep working on education legislation, making sure that our public schools are the best in the nation. I think that’s also an important economic engine. If our schools are good, then people want to come live here and work here,” she said.
The 2022 Delaware General Assembly session ends on Thursday, June 30th, at midnight.