Governor John Carney wrapped up the 2019 legislative session by signing an $863 million capital budget, which will fund new school construction, fix roads and bridges, keep our commitment to funding open space and farmland preservation statewide, invest in new drinking water infrastructure, and provide new funding for Delaware’s colleges and universities. On June 25, Governor Carney signed a $4.4 billion operating budget for Fiscal Year 2020. The plan provides more than $100 million over three years to support students and teachers in Delaware’s highest-needs schools, and sets aside $125 million in savings to guard against potential future economic downturns. Working with the General Assembly, Governor Carney made progress this legislative session on the priority items laid out in his 2019 State of the State Address.
“We are investing in the future of our state – improving schools for all Delaware children, fixing roads and bridges in every Delaware community, and responsibly managing taxpayer dollars so we’re prepared to keep investing where it matters most. Our work with members of the General Assembly is paying off. Graduation rates are up, unemployment is down, and our state is on sound financial footing, just two years after climbing out of $400 million budget deficit. But we have plenty of work ahead to make sure that all Delaware families have an opportunity to participate in Delaware’s success. That’s why we’re investing in high-needs schools, in clean drinking water, affordable housing, open-space, and rural broadband infrastructure – to give more Delaware families a real shot to succeed in the Delaware of the future.” – Governor John Carney
In the 2019 State of the State Address, Governor Carney outlined his top priorities for this year.
Opportunity Funding – Working with the General Assembly, Governor Carney set aside $75 million over three years for English learners, low-income students, and new mental health supports in schools.
“I will propose a new Opportunity Funding program – Delaware’s first real weighted funding plan. It will direct $60 million over the next three years to low-income students, and English learners across our state. The funding will pay for the type of help disadvantaged students need: more reading and math supports, counselors, smaller class sizes, and after school programs. Let me tell you how this will be different from efforts tried in the past. Over the course of the next three years, the Department of Education will work with district and charter leaders to review plans for spending this new funding, and track the results for students. We will also create a new statewide commission of community leaders. They’ll evaluate this plan, track results, and shine a light on best practices. They’ll also recommend new steps that will help our most disadvantaged students succeed…Delaware is one of only a handful of states that doesn’t provide additional funding for disadvantaged students. I am prepared to invest in better education programs that actually achieve real results for children at risk. Join me in helping these children reach their potential and realize their dreams.”
Infrastructure – The capital budget includes a record $863 million investment in clean water, new roads and bridges, school construction, affordable housing, colleges and universities, and economic development projects.
Plastic Bags Ban – Governor Carney and Members of the General Assembly are working to #KeepDELitterFree, and enacted a ban on single-use plastic bags that will help protect Delaware’s environment, wildlife and communities.
Raising Tobacco Sales Age to 21 – Governor Carney signed into law Senate Bill 25, which increase the age for sales of tobacco products from 18 to 21. Raising the age to buy cigarettes to 21 will prevent younger Delawareans from smoking, improve the health of young Delawareans, and reduce health care costs.
“Living healthy lifestyles is probably the most important thing we can all do to lower healthcare costs in the long run. We know that forming good health habits early in life increases the chances you’ll be a healthy adult. That’s why I intend to support Senator Townsend’s proposal to raise the age for purchasing cigarettes from 18 to 21. Please join me in getting this done.”
Early Voting – Governor Carney signed legislation into law that seeks to increase voter participation in Delaware elections by allowing early, in-person voting.
“There is nothing more fundamental to our quality of life as Americans than having access to the voting booth. Right now, Delaware lags behind in making it easy and convenient for people to exercise their right to vote. We’re going to change that. Working with all of you, I want to sign into law legislation allowing early voting.”
Safe Storage – Governor Carney signed into law legislation that requires Delaware gun owners to safely store their firearms around children.
Medicaid Waiver – A new reinsurance program seeks to lower costs for Delaware families who get health insurance on the exchange.
Equal Rights Amendment – In January 2019, the General Assembly passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Delaware Constitution.
Farmland Preservation and Open Space – Governor Carney and the Delaware Department of Agriculture announced the 23rd round of easement selections by the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation, which permanently preserves more than 134,000 acres of Delaware farmland. This round of easement selections was the largest round of farms preserved in Delaware history. The FY 20 budget preserves $20 million for farmland preservation and open space.
“Since the program’s inception, Delaware has preserved almost 125,000 acres of farmland. That’s approximately 25 percent of all farmland in the state. And that’s something we can all be proud of.”
Investing in Higher Education – The capital budget signed by Governor Carney includes $20 million for Delaware’s Higher Education Economic Development Fund, and additional funding for capital projects at Delaware Technical and Community College, Delaware State University, and the University of Delaware.
“We’re investing in Delaware State University, Delaware Tech, and the University of Delaware, so that we can meet the workforce needs of future employers.”
Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund – Governor Carney proposed and the General Assembly passed legislation creating a Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund that can be used for transportation infrastructure projects that are not included in the $3.2 billion, six year capital plan. This fund will be an additional tool to help with economic development projects that will create a significant number of jobs.
“This year, I’m proposing to create a new Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund that would help the state to react quickly to important economic development projects. We’re going to invest $10 million in this new fund.”
Investing in our State Employees and Educators – Governor Carney’s budget called for a $1,000 raise for state employees and a 2% raise for educators statewide, on top of annual step increases.
“And in my budget next week, I’ll propose that we continue these investments in state employee pay. I believe strongly in the importance of our state employees, and believe we need to continue to invest in them.”
Highlights of the 2019 Fiscal Year Appropriations:
- Limits operating budget growth to 4.2%
- Sets aside over $100 million in reserves
- Appropriates $62 million toward one-time items in a separate supplemental appropriation bill
- Funds long-term liabilities such as pensions and debt service
- Funds “door openers” such as:
- $19.5 million for K-12 enrollment growth
- $14.6 million for salary steps (Education, DSP, DTCC, agency)
- $9.4 million for pupil transportation
- $9.8 million for Medicaid growth
- $2.2 million for debt service
- $1.3 million for election machine maintenance
- $1.1 million for inmate medical/pharmacy inflation
IMPROVING OUR SCHOOLS FOR ALL DELAWARE CHILDREN
Investing $100 million in High-Needs Schools
- Opportunity Funding: $75 million over three years for:
- $20 million/year in weighted funding for low-income students and English learners (EL) across all grade levels
- $5.0 million/year to provide mental health and reading supports for grades K-5
- $500,000 to evaluate the results of this program and identify best practices
- Providing Resources for Early Grades – Student Success Block Grant: $26 million over a three year period for the following:
- $4.5 million/year in support for K-3 Basic Special Education
- $4.0 million/year to provide an estimated 45 reading teachers targeted to elementary schools with high percentages of students in poverty
- $350,000/year to establish Wellness Centers in elementary schools
Investing in the Classroom
- $1 million for yearlong residencies to prepare incoming teachers and improve retention in high-needs schools
- $850,000 for the DE Literacy Plan providing professional development and micro-credential bonuses
- $560,000 to provide 4 additional middle school math coaches, bringing the total funding for this program to $1.6 million
Investing in Educators
- Funding for annual salary steps for educators, plus a 2% general salary increase
- $500,000 to expand High Needs Educator Student Loan Forgiveness Program, bringing the total funding for this program to $700,000
- $347,600 to restore National Board certification premium
Investing in Early Education
- $3.8 million to continue support for Delaware’s early learning centers
- $6.7 million to maintain access to quality early learning through Delaware STARS
Investing in the City of Wilmington
- Continued support of $1.5 million for the Christina School District schools located in the City of Wilmington
Continued Support for Higher Education Institutions
- $2.2 million for SEED and Inspire program growth, and for the expansion of SEED to post-associate’s degree
- $1.5 million for the Higher Education Land Grant/Workforce Development Matching Fund to match federal land grant appropriations or support academic programs that address critical workforce needs in the State
- $1.7 million for the University of Delaware to support in-state students and the Cooperative Extension program
- $538,800 to expand grant opportunities for women athletes and support for the nursing program at Delaware State University
- $1.1 million for the Delaware Technical Community College RN to BSN program, diesel mechanic program, pathways partnerships, enrollment and financial aid support, and phasing in a retention and compensation plan
A STRONG & STABLE STATE WORKFORCE
Investing in State Workers and Educators
- $1,000 annual raise for state workers
- Successfully completed negotiations with several collective bargaining units
- 2% raise for educators and bus drivers statewide, on top of annual step increases
Recruiting and Retaining Quality Employees
- $150,000 for the First State Quality Improvement Fund
- $85,000 for recruitment and retention efforts
High-Needs Area – Public Safety
- $1.5 million in additional funding for the second year implementation of the Department of Correction Independent Review recommendations
- $508,600 and 18.0 FTEs for pending legislation expanding the availability of expungement for selected categories of adult arrests and convictions (SS1 to SB 37)
High-Needs Area – Children’s Services
- $3.3 million to add 34 casework staff and contractual support in the Division of Family Services
- $5.0 million in a contingency to address department-wide caseload growth
A HEALTHIER DELAWARE
Supporting Those who Serve Delawareans with Disabilities
- $4.2 million for contractual increases for partners providing services to those with disabilities
- $3.6 million for attendant care services waiting list
Continued Health Coverage for Children
- $3.2 million for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) due to decreased federal funding
Addressing Prevention, Treatment, Resilience and Recovery of Mental Health, including substance use and co-occurring disorders
- $2.9 million for a Behavioral Health Consortium Contingency
Providing Basic Services to the Medicaid Population
- $1.3 million for Medicaid dental services
One-time and bond funding toward investments in Delaware’s infrastructure, economy and communities
- Funds over $863 million clean water, new roads and bridges, affordable housing, colleges and universities, and economic development projects
- Invests over $425.3 million for the Transportation Trust Fund – part of a six-year, $3.2 billion plan to fix roads and bridges statewide through 2025
- $122.2 million for new K-12 school construction and renovations of old school facilities in the Cape Henlopen, Capital, Appoquinimink, Brandywine, and Indian River districts, and $12.1 million for renovations to Christina schools in the City of Wilmington
- Over $33.5 million in higher education investments, and an additional $20 million for the Higher Education Economic Development Investment Fund to support projects at our universities and community college that will create quality jobs for Delawareans
- $25.0 million for drinking water, clean water, and conservation
- $17.5 million for community redevelopment throughout the state
- $6.3 million for libraries across the state (Southern Regional, North Wilmington, Rehoboth Beach, Seaford)
- $2.0 million for the Volunteer Fire Service Revolving Loan Fund