Ends legislative session marked by efforts to support businesses and workers, strengthen schools, and unleash the potential of every Delawarean
Dover, DE – Surrounded by lawmakers early this morning, Governor Jack Markell signed a balanced Fiscal Year 2015 budget to cap a legislative session focused on increasing economic opportunity for all Delawareans.
Despite a fiscal climate that has remained challenging even in a time of job growth, the funding appropriated in the Budget, Bond and Capital Improvements and Grants-in-Aid bills keeps the Governor’s commitment to fiscal responsibility. Overall, the accomplishments of this session:
The Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget contains 2.46% growth over Fiscal Year 2014 despite unanticipated increases in Medicaid expenses and the number of children attending Delaware schools. Average annual budget growth during the Markell administration (2009-2015) is 2.2%.
The state has continued to receive a AAA bond rating from all three rating agencies in large part due to appropriating just 98 percent of available revenues and maintaining a fully funded Rainy Day Fund. This year’s budget adheres to those principles.
“When we gathered at the beginning of this legislative session, I spoke about the goal of unleashing the potential of our people – about our shared belief that we all stand to gain when everyone gets a fair shot,” said Markell. “At the core of that mission is a responsibility to ensure economic opportunity is available for all Delawareans.
“Delaware’s economy continues to outperform the country where it matters most, with job growth outpacing the national average every month since the start of 2013, and during the past six months we have kept moving forward. The achievements of this session will help more people realize their potential and make the most of their abilities in our great state.”
Encouraging Economic Development and Job Creation
“We supported our job creators by bringing down the cost of doing business while taking steps to spur the research and development that leads to innovation and job growth,” said Markell.
Creating Opportunities to Work
“We have no higher priority than ensuring employers have access to a skilled workforce in Delaware because that’s what businesses say is most important to them, and because gaining the right skills is critical for workers to succeed in today’s economy,” said Markell.
Supporting Opportunities to Learn
“Any successful economy and society needs great schools,” said Markell. “We have made unprecedented strides in efforts to attract and retain great teachers while giving school leaders the chance to use state funding in ways that work best for their students.”
o $19.0 million to maintain classroom size and fully fund unit count (220 units).
o $10.2 million for step increases for school employees and the enhanced paraprofessional pay plan.
o $2.9 million for pupil transportation associated with enrollment growth.
Building Opportunities for Those in Need
“We cannot meet the potential of our state unless we give all of our people a fair chance to meet their potential,” said Markell. “We have taken steps to reform our criminal justice system to give ex-offenders the opportunity to contribute when they have repaid their debt to society, and we have removed barriers to employment for them and other groups that have faced obstacles.”
o Sentencing reform that ends Delaware’s status as the only state to not allow concurrent sentences (HB 312); and
o A pre-trial supervision program to will keep some non-violent individuals out of prison. ($250K)
o $3.8 million in the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services to support additional community placements.
o $3.6 million for community-based services for individuals with serious and persistent mental illness.
o $1.8 million to the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services to support an estimated 175 additional special school graduates.
o $1.3 million to help kids get off to the right startby expanding the proven Nurse-Family Partnership program that assists first-time mothers.
Making Government Work Effectively and Efficiently
”While ensuring economic opportunity for all must be our ultimate goal, that can only happen if we also fulfill our obligation to give Delawareans faith in their elected officials and to make government as effective and efficient as possible,” said Markell.
o HS 1 to HB 302 consolidates the three County Elections Boards, grants a new State Board of Elections authority over campaign finance-related disputes, and allows for anonymous reporting of election law violations.
o SB 186 requires that entities disclose name and address of one “responsible party” – someone who shares or exercises direction or control over entity’s activities.
o HB 301 provides for clearer attribution of contributions from joint accounts by requiring that contributions from joint accounts (including but not limited to bank accounts) be attributed to the person signing the check or authorizing payment.
o HB 300 addresses whistleblower protections for employees who report and/or refuse to participate in violations of campaign finance laws, and who participate in an investigation, hearing, trial or inquiry of a campaign finance violation.
o SB 187 provides a safe alternative for the return of prohibited campaign and suspected prohibited campaign contributions.
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