Governor Carney Signs Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Plan, Capping General Assembly Session

Session included measures to improve Delaware’s economy, create jobs, reform the Department of Correction, and combat addiction crisis

Highlights of the 2017 legislative session include:

  • Restructuring Economic Development: House Bill 226 restructures the way Delaware attracts good-paying jobs to Delaware and keeps them here, with a focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and small business development.

    Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Senator Nicole Poore, Representative Stephanie T. Bolden, Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride, Representative Charles Potter, Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, Senator Jack Walsh, Senator Greg Lavelle, Senator Anthony Delcollo, Representative Danny Short, Representative Steve Smyk, and Representative Ronald Gray (not pictured) applaud Governor Carney after the bill signing.
  • Modernizing the Coastal Zone Act: House Bill 190 allows the responsible redevelopment of 14 legacy industrial sites along the Delaware coastline, bolstering Delaware’s economy while paving the way for additional environmental clean-up of those sites.
  • Raising Correctional Officer Pay: The Fiscal Year 2018 budget includes a pay increase for Correctional Officers across experience levels – including a 22 percent increase to starting officer pay that will help Delaware recruit and retain officers and eliminate a staffing shortage.
  • Combatting Delaware’s Addiction Crisis: Senate Bill 41, House Bill 91, and House Bill 100 will expand access to substance abuse treatment, and strengthen oversight of opioid prescriptions. Senate Bill 111 and House Bill 220 will form a Behavioral Health Consortium and an Addiction Action Committee to create an integrated plan around the prevention and treatment of substance abuse and mental health challenges.
  • Creating the Department of Human Resources: House Bill 4 creates a new Department of Human Resources to help confront issues important to state employees. The new agency will promote diversity and inclusion across state government, and help solve a Correctional Officer staffing shortage.
  • Protecting Delawareans from Cybersecurity Threats: House Bill 180 requires additional protections for Delawareans whose personal information may be compromised in a computer breach, including requiring additional notifications and free credit monitoring services.

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney on Sunday night signed a $4.1 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2018, a plan that balances a nearly $400 million budget shortfall through a nearly equal mix of spending reductions and new revenue, while maintaining funding for key public services.

Governor Carney signed the budget in his Legislative Hall office flanked by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. He also signed a $590 million capital spending plan and a $37.2 million grant-in-aid bill.

“Since January, I have talked to thousands of Delawareans who understand the need for a balanced, long-term budget plan for our state,” said Governor Carney. “The budget I signed tonight makes critical investments in education, healthcare, our environment, and in our correctional system. But going forward, we cannot be complacent. We must do more to put Delaware on a sustainable path forward. With this budget, we are committing to studying real spending reforms, and to improving the way we deliver state services. We also should continue discussing new, creative ways to fund those services through a long-term revenue plan. Thank you to the General Assembly for their work on this budget, and I look forward to continuing our work together.”

 

The budget funds a number of key priorities, including:

  • $24.2 million to fully fund new teachers in Delaware’s classrooms to match enrollment growth.
  • $16 million to fund pay increases for Correctional Officers.
  • $7.8 million to fully fund growth in the Medicaid program for low-income Delawareans, Delawareans with disabilities, and seniors in long-term care.
  • $4.7 million to maintain funding for early childhood education.
  • $2.3 million to authorize new Correctional Officer positions.
  • $1 million to add funding for substance abuse treatment programs.

Savings and other reductions include:

  • $11 million reduction to the Educational Sustainment Fund.
  • $5 million savings by eliminating 200 vacant positions across state agencies.
  • $2 million target savings in employee health costs.
  • $1.6 million reduction by modifying double state share for employee health insurance rates.

Revenue increases include:

  • $116 million: Corporate franchise tax increases
  • $11.6 million: Raise taxes on cigarettes 50 cents per pack, and increase taxes on other tobacco products.
  • $5.2 million: Raise taxes on beer, wine and spirits, including by one penny per beer.
  • $44.7 million: 1% increase in the realty transfer tax.
  • $4.5 million: Across-the-board increases to the filing fees associated with Department of Insurance filings.

 

When Governor Carney signed the budget, he capped a legislative session that included significant action to improve Delaware’s economy, create jobs, reform the Department of Correction, and combat Delaware’s addiction crisis.

“Together with lawmakers of both parties, we have acted to create good-paying jobs, and to make sure our economy works for all Delawareans. We have taken steps to reform our prison system and confront our addiction crisis head on,” said Governor Carney. “We’ve also passed common sense reforms to protect Delawareans from cybersecurity threats, and to close a persistent gender pay gap. Votes taken this session will make a real difference for citizens up and down our great state. Thank you to members of the General Assembly for their hard work and partnership on these important issues.”

 

Additional details:

BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FINANCIAL PLAN

Budget Reset Community Conversations: Governor Carney met with thousands of Delawareans from Claymont to Delmar about Delaware’s budget challenges. Hosted by members of the General Assembly, the Governor held ten budget town halls before his budget presentation on March 23, and another ten town halls after presenting his budget plan.

Managing Healthcare Costs: House Joint Resolution 7 authorizes DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker to establish a health care budget benchmark with a growth rate tied to the overall economy of the state. It is the first step in evaluating the total cost of care of health care in the state and a major step in transforming Delaware’s health care system to a more outcome-driven system and away from a system that pays for care based solely on the number of room days, visits, procedures and tests.

DEFAC Panel on Budgeting Practices: House Joint Resolution 8 creates a panel of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council to study and develop a report on Delaware’s historic budgeting practices, the need for reasonable restrictions on the use of budget surpluses, and the benefits of a budget stabilization fund.

Making Government More Efficient: Governor Carney signed Executive Order #4, creating the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review Board (GEAR) and committing to a long-term effort to study cost savings, efficiencies and ways to improve the delivery of services across state government. Governor Carney maintained a commitment to responsible spending in his budget and throughout the year, calling for an equal mix of spending reductions and new revenue to confront Delaware’s budget challenges.

Escheat Reform: Senate Bill 13 comprehensively rewrites Delaware’s unclaimed property laws. In an effort to align Delaware’s laws with other states, the legislation retooled all aspects of unclaimed property examinations, voluntary disclosure agreements (VDAs), and compliance.

 

CREATING JOBS

Restructuring Economic Development: House Bill 226 approved Governor Carney’s plan to fundamentally restructure Delaware’s economic development efforts, with a new focus on supporting Delaware’s entrepreneurs and small businesses, and promoting innovation. Governor Carney’s plan includes creation of a public-private partnership, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, to leverage additional resources to help attract employers to Delaware, keep them here, support innovation and develop Delaware’s workforce. On his first full day in office, Governor Carney signed Executive Order #1 to explore a new economic development strategy. Restructuring the state’s economic development efforts, and partnering strategically with the private sector, was a recommendation of Governor Carney’s Action Plan For Delaware.

Modernizing the Coastal Zone Act: House Bill 190 will allow responsible redevelopment of 14 heavy industrial sites in the Coastal Zone Act. The reform will pave the way for new job creation and additional cleanup of legacy industrial sites along Delaware’s coastline. Governor Carney called for a plan to responsibly modify the Coastal Zone Act during his March address to the General Assembly. Revitalizing abandoned industrial sites was a recommendation of Governor Carney’s Action Plan For Delaware.

Expanding Broadband Access: House Bill 189 will accelerate investments in mobile broadband infrastructure, expanding access to high-speed internet for Delawareans and businesses across the state and encouraging innovation. Expanding broadband access was a recommendation of Governor Carney’s Action Plan For Delaware.

 

REFORMING THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION

Correctional Officer Pay Increases: The Fiscal Year 2018 budget funds the agreement with the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware (COAD) to raise salaries for Delaware’s Correctional Officers – including a 22 percent increase in starting officer pay – to help recruit and retain officers across Delaware’s correctional system.

Adding Correctional Officer Positions: The Fiscal Year 2018 Budget authorizes and funds 50 additional Correctional Officers at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center and 25 additional officers at Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution.

Investing in Equipment and Training: The Fiscal Year 2018 Budget invests $2 million in new cameras at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and $1.3 million in new equipment and training that will help Correctional Officers better prevent and respond to violent incidents.

Special Assistant: Governor Carney appointed Claire DeMatteis – a former senior counsel to then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden – as a temporary Special Assistant to the Governor at the Delaware Department of Correction. DeMatteis will focus her efforts on reform of management practices and training, cultural turnaround, and implementation of Governor Carney’s plan following the Independent Review into the causes of the February 1 incident at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

Improving Re-Entry Programs, Reducing Recidivism: Department of Correction Commissioner Perry Phelps hired Jim Elder – the Director of Clinical Services for Re-entry Programming at the Wilmington HOPE Commission – to lead DOC’s efforts to help offenders successfully re-enter their communities, and reduce Delaware’s rate of recidivism. The selection of Elder will place a new emphasis inside the agency on re-entry programming and efforts to reduce recidivism.

 

COMBATTING DELAWARE’S ADDICTION CRISIS

Expanding Treatment, Strengthening Regulation: Senate Bill 41, House Bill 91, and House Bill 100, a bipartisan package of legislation, will expand access to substance abuse treatment, strengthen oversight of opioid prescriptions, and combat Delaware’s addiction crisis. Governor Carney signed the legislation during a ceremony that included remarks from Attorney General Matt Denn, members of the General Assembly, and Delaware advocates for improved access to substance abuse treatment – including families who have lost loved ones to Delaware’s opioid epidemic.

Behavioral Health Consortium: Senate Bill 111 and House Bill 220 will further combat Delaware’s addiction epidemic and improve services for those suffering from mental illness. The legislation will lead to the creation of a Behavioral Health Consortium and an Addiction Action Committee that will form an integrated plan and blueprint for action for the prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental health, substance use and co-occurring disorders in Delaware. The creation of the consortium and coordinated plan was a recommendation of Governor Carney’s Action Plan For Delaware.

 

STANDING UP FOR DELAWAREANS

Creating the Department of Human Resources: House Bill 4 creates a new Department of Human Resources to help confront issues important to state employees. The new agency will promote diversity and inclusion across state government, and help solve a Correctional Officer staffing shortage. Creating a new Human Resources agency was a recommendation of Governor Carney’s Action Plan For Delaware.

Confronting the Gender Pay Gap: House Bill 1 will prevent employers from requesting the salary history of job applicants and will help close the pay gap between men and women. The bipartisan legislation – which takes effect in December – also explicitly prohibits employers from screening applicants based on previous compensation history.

Protecting Delawareans from Cybersecurity Threats: House Bill 180 requires additional protections for Delawareans whose personal information may be compromised in a computer breach, including additional notifications and free credit monitoring services.

Artificial Island: Senate Joint Resolution 2 urges the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to accept either of PJM’s alternative cost allocation methodologies for funding the Artificial Island transmission line project. As currently funded, Delmarva Peninsula ratepayers would fund more than 90 percent of the cost of the project through higher electric bills, while receiving few direct benefits. Under PJM’s alternative methods for cost allocation, Delmarva ratepayers would fund approximately 7-10 percent of the project costs. Governor Carney has consistently worked with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to urge a more fair resolution for Delmarva ratepayers.

Offering Delawareans a Second Chance: Senate Bill 54 allows Delawareans with juvenile records to petition Delaware’s judicial system for expungement, removing barriers to additional education and employment.

Redeveloping Blighted Properties: House Bill 187 and House Bill 188 hold property owners of blighted properties accountable, requiring them to clean up their properties and pay back taxes before bidding on additional properties, and ensuring that taxpayers do not bear costs created by abandonment.

 

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For details on all of the legislation that Governor Carney has signed into law to date, visit the Legislative Advisories page on the Governor’s website.


Governor Carney’s Statement on General Assembly’s Failure to Pass a Budget

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney early Saturday morning issued the following statement on the General Assembly’s failure to reach a budget agreement:

“I’m deeply disappointed that the General Assembly has failed to reach an agreement to pass a balanced budget, and a responsible long-term financial plan. The people of Delaware expect us to responsibly do their business, and that includes working together to enact a responsible financial plan for the state. As I’ve been saying for months, we need a balanced, long-term plan that relies on spending reductions and new revenue to solve our financial challenges in a sustainable way. The fact is we met Republican leaders more than halfway. We have pledged to support real spending reductions, and fiscal reforms that would place controls on future spending. Unfortunately, Republicans have been unwilling to compromise on their ideological demands, and have not agreed to support a sustainable plan to raise new revenue. But our work will continue, and it’s time for members of the General Assembly to get serious about passing a long-term budget.”

Lawmakers early Saturday approved and Governor Carney signed Senate Bill 137, a short-term appropriation measure that will fund state government at Fiscal Year 2017 levels for 72 hours.

Governor Carney sent a memorandum to General Assembly Leadership before the vote, outlining details of the short-term appropriation measure and the importance of continuing state government operations, including paying state employees.

The Governor also signed an extraordinary session proclamation to call the General Assembly back to session at 1:00 PM on Sunday, July 2. The Governor intends to call the General Assembly into session each day until a Fiscal Year 2018 budget is enacted into law.


Governor Carney Continues Town Halls with Legislators on State Budget

Updated schedule and information available at de.gov/budgetreset

DOVER, Del. – Governor Carney will continue to talk to Delawareans about his state budget proposal, with a town hall event scheduled at 7:30 p.m. at Delmar Fire Hall on Wednesday night, hosted by Senator Bryant Richardson and Representative Tim Dukes.

Since January, Governor Carney has held more than a dozen Budget Reset Community Conversations, hosted by more than two dozen members of the General Assembly at coffee shops, restaurants and in town hall settings.

The updated schedule of budget events is available below.

“These are important conversations, with Delawareans and members of the General Assembly, about building a long-term, sustainable plan to address the financial challenges we face as a state,” said Governor John Carney. “Thank you to all of the legislators who are hosting these events, including Senator Richardson and Representative Dukes, and to all Delawareans for all your feedback on this important issue.”

Governor Carney presented a long-term financial plan in March to address a nearly $400 million budget shortfall, and will work with legislators through June 30 on a balanced budget solution.

For additional details:

Budget Reset Schedule and Overview
Budget Reset Presentation
Governor Carney’s Budget Proposal
Summary of Governor Carney’s Proposal

Upcoming schedule:

7:30 p.m. – May 10 – Delmar Fire Hall, Delmar, hosted by Senator Bryant Richardson and Representative Tim Dukes
7:00 p.m. – May 22 – Elsmere Fire Hall, Elsmere, hosted by Representative Larry Mitchell and Senator Anthony Delcollo
6:30 p.m. – May 24 – Delaware State Police: Troop 2, Newark, hosted by Senators Nicole Poore and Stephanie Hansen and Representative Earl Jaques
7:00 p.m. – May 31 – Sussex Central High School, Georgetown, hosted by Senators Brian Pettyjohn and Gerald Hocker, and Representatives Ruth Briggs-King, Richard Collins, and Ronald Gray
7:00 p.m. – June 12 – Talley Middle School, North Wilmington, hosted by Senator Cathy Cloutier and Representative Sean Matthews

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Governor Carney’s First 100 Days

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor Carney released the following statement on his first 100 days in office:

“During my first several months in office, I have traveled across our state, meeting with Delawareans from Claymont to Laurel, and everywhere in between. We have discussed our budget challenges, ways to create jobs and grow Delaware’s economy, improve public education, and protect our environment. We face challenges as a state, but I am more confident than ever that we will get through them together, and keep Delaware a welcoming place for everyone to live, work and raise a family. Thank you to all Delawareans who are engaging on these issues. I look forward to continuing our work together.”

Below are details on several of Governor Carney’s priorities, and ongoing initiatives, as he continues his first year in office.

Delawareans can visit de.gov/ideas to contact Governor Carney and offer their ideas for moving Delaware forward.

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BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FINANCIAL PLAN

Governor Carney discusses budget challenges at a Community Conversation in Lewes.
Governor Carney discusses budget challenges at a Community Conversation in Lewes.

Governor Carney has traveled the state, holding Budget Reset Community Conversations to discuss the state’s budget challenges alongside members of the General Assembly, and to gather ideas from members of the public. Since January, Governor Carney has held more than a dozen Conversations in restaurants, coffee shops and town hall settings, hosted by more than two dozen legislators.

In March, the Governor submitted a balanced, long-term financial plan to bridge a $400 million budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2018, and put Delaware on a more sustainable path forward. The Governor’s budget relies on an equal mix of cuts and new revenue, and continues to make investments in education, healthcare and other services crucial to the welfare of Delawareans.

More details: de.gov/budgetreset

Executive Order #4 established the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review Board (G.E.A.R.) to identify opportunities for cost savings in state government, and to establish practices for continuous improvement. In conjunction with that order, the G.E.A.R. Board held their first meeting on March 24, 2017. On May 1st, the Director of OMB and the Secretary of Finance provided preliminary recommendations to the Governor for further review with the JFC in preparing the 2018 budget.

More details: de.gov/gear

Delaware’s Triple-A credit rating was re-affirmed by Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings, and Standard & Poor’s Rating Service, for the 17th year in a row. The Triple-A rating translates to reduced interest costs for Delaware, allowing the state to fund capital projects at the lowest available interest rates.

Some of the projects to be funded with the proceeds of Delaware’s bond sales will include a new elementary school in the Laurel School District, renovations in the Red Clay, Lake Forest, Cape Henlopen, Smyrna, Caesar Rodney and Brandywine school districts as well as public library construction and renovations at Garfield Park, Lewes, Delmar, Selbyville, Harrington and Duck Creek.

More details: de.gov/rating

Governor Carney signed into law a critical piece of legislation, Senate Bill 13, that provides a comprehensive rewrite of Delaware’s unclaimed property laws. In an effort to align Delaware’s laws with other states, S.B. 13 retooled all aspects of unclaimed property examinations, voluntary disclosure agreements (VDAs), and compliance.

More details: de.gov/law

 

TRANSITIONING DELAWARE’S ECONOMY


On his first full day in office, Governor Carney signed Executive Order #1, creating the Economic Development Working Group to study a public-private economic development partnership that will help Delaware support innovation, entrepreneurs, and prepare Delaware’s workforce for success in the 21st century economy. The Working Group has submitted recommendations for implementing a partnership, and Governor Carney will work with the General Assembly to explore a path forward.

Exploring a new economic development model was an Action Plan recommendation.

More details: de.gov/dedoreport

Earlier this month, Governor John Carney announced the creation of the Delaware Innovation Space, Inc. – a nonprofit public-private partnership established by the State of Delaware, DuPont, and the University of Delaware that will catalyze the entrepreneurial growth of new science-based businesses and ventures in Delaware.

Delaware Innovation Space Inc - Experimental Station
Governor John Carney, Bill Provine, Doug Muzak, and UD President Dennis Assanis tour labs that will be redesigned for the Delaware Innovation Space.

The Delaware Innovation Space will focus on key Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) areas that align with strengths both DuPont and UD bring to the venture. They include industrial biotechnology, renewable energy, advanced materials, chemical ingredients, nutrition and healthcare to help strengthen Delaware’s presence as a leader in those areas.

It also will provide education to entrepreneurs and startups, help accelerate the formation of new businesses, and connect Delaware’s students with the work of innovators and entrepreneurs.

More details: deinnovates.org/

 

STANDING UP FOR ALL DELAWAREANS

Governor Carney – in one of his first official acts in office – re-established the Family Services Cabinet Council to coordinate services for Delaware youth and families. Reestablishment of the Family Services Cabinet Council was an Action Plan recommendation.

Delaware families continue to face significant challenges – including the high cost of child care; violence and poverty in their neighborhoods; the impact of caring for an aging family member; and the challenges of navigating an economy in transition. The Family Services Cabinet Council, which the Governor is chairing, is charged with coordinating public and private services that are often fragmented, and proposing changes to current programs to make the delivery of state services more effective.

More details: de.gov/council

Governor Carney presents Executive Order 6.
Governor Carney announces Executive Order 6.

Delaware’s Office of Management and Budget created a single anti-discrimination policy across state government, the result of Governor Carney signing Executive Order #6.

Adoption of the uniform policy, an Action Plan recommendation, will allow state agencies to consistently respond to reports of discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace. The policy also clearly outlines a consistent policy for state employees to report and resolve complaints of discrimination.

More details: de.gov/order

The Governor signed off on the state’s Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, the result of months of collaboration with educators, community members, advocates and other stakeholders across the state. The plan articulates Delaware’s commitment to closing the achievement gap, and ensuring all students are prepared for college and/or the career of their choosing.

More details: de.gov/essa

 

ADDRESSING SECURITY IN DELAWARE’S PRISONS

Governor Carney has launched an Independent Review of the February 1 hostage incident at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. Former U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III and retired Judge William L. Chapman, Jr. are reviewing the causes of the incident and will report back to Governor Carney by June 1 with findings and actionable recommendations to address security of the Delaware correctional facility.

More details: de.gov/review

Governor Carney has taken important initial steps to address security risks for employees and inmates at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and across Delaware’s correctional system, following the February 1 hostage incident. The Governor has authorized an investment of $340,800 in new security and communications equipment to help officers respond to and prevent violent incidents. In his financial plan, Governor Carney has proposed to add 50 officers at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, raise hazardous duty pay for correctional officers, and invest another $1.3 million in equipment and training.

More details: de.gov/steps

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Governor Carney Delivers Address to Joint Session of the General Assembly

Governor lays out plan for growing the economy, improving Delaware’s schools and balancing the budget

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney delivered a Special Address to a Joint Session of the 149th General Assembly on Thursday, saying he is determined to take steps that will grow Delaware’s economy, address the addiction crisis, coordinate services for families in need, improve security at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and make government more efficient – while working with legislators on a long-term plan to bridge a $385 million budget shortfall.

Full text of the speech, as prepared for delivery, is available below.

“It’s our responsibility to keep our state a great place to live and work and raise a family,” said Governor Carney, during his address. “A state ready to compete in the economy of the 21st century. I know we all want that. And I know we all understand that means tough choices today that will pay off for our state tomorrow.”

Thursday’s speech, delivered in the Senate Chamber at Legislative Hall in Dover, was Governor Carney’s first address to the General Assembly as Governor. Attendees included County and City leaders, members of the Delaware Judiciary, members of Governor Carney’s Cabinet, statewide elected officials, and representatives from Delaware’s higher education institutions.

Below are highlights from the Governor’s address:

ON THE BUDGET:

“I know that all of you in the General Assembly are tired of sitting here year after year talking about how we can climb out of another budget hole. Some things are beyond our control, but this one is not. It’s within our power, this June, to put ourselves on a more sustainable financial footing. My budget does that, and I look forward to working with each of you on your ideas to do the same. What I will not do is use budget gimmicks or one-time fixes to bail us out on June 30, only to be right back here next year giving the same speech.”

ON THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION:

“Twelve days after this horrible incident, we launched an independent review, led by former Justice Henry DuPont Ridgeley and former Judge Bill Chapman. I will receive their recommendations by June 1 and will work quickly with the leaders of the Correction Committees in the House and Senate to develop a plan of action. It will not be a report that collects dust on a shelf. Officer Wilkinson: I pledge to you that we will make real improvements and we will make them quickly.”

ON THE ECONOMY:

“We need a new, more dynamic, economic development strategy. One that can leverage the resources of our business sector, as well as higher education and not for profits. The Delaware Economic Development Office needs to be at the forefront of moving Delaware into the 21st century economy. So my first act as governor was to find a way to energize our economic development efforts. We’re going to do that by bringing private sector involvement into DEDO.”

ON THE COASTAL ZONE ACT:

“Other brownfields will require a fresh look at our venerable Coastal Zone Act. I don’t underestimate how hard this will be. Or how important it is to protect the beautiful natural areas along our coastline. But, I’m committed to working with all the relevant stakeholders to modernize the Coastal Zone Act. Our goal is to allow redevelopment in parts of our state that were once home to good-paying manufacturing jobs. I believe we can make reasonable changes to this law that will protect our environment while allowing our economy to grow. I want us to work together over the next few months so that we leave here in June with reasonable reforms that will leave our state better off.”

ON EDUCATION:

“Perhaps more important than anything we do to strengthen our economy is getting our schools on track, and making sure that every child is college- or career-ready. With fewer resources, we need to make better use of what we have, beginning with the Department of Education. I’ve asked Secretary Bunting to lead my effort to reorganize the Department of Education so that it’s more responsive to the needs of teachers and administrators. Educators should see the Department of Education as another player on their team — not an obstacle to progress or a drain on resources.”

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A high resolution photo is available here.

Governor Carney’s Address to the General Assembly
March 30, 2017 – As prepared for delivery

Lt. Governor Hall-Long, Mister President Pro Temp, Mister Speaker, Members of the 149th General Assembly, Members of the Cabinet, Distinguished members of the Judiciary, invited guests, and my fellow Delawareans:

In the 10 short weeks since I was sworn in as governor, I have been traveling up and down our state doing town hall meetings. From Seaford and Lewes, to Dover and Pike Creek, Newark and Wilmington, I’ve spoken with thousands of Delawareans. I’ve been joined by almost twenty members of the General Assembly.

The topic was the budget. But we got an earful on a lot of important issues. Some people came to complain. Others came looking for help. Others came looking for support.

But we all seemed to agree on one thing: business as usual has to change. If we are going to tackle the tough issues that confront us, we need to get our financial house in order. We need a budget reset — a new plan to set us on stronger financial footing and make our state more competitive. A long-term solution to a nearly $400 million budget deficit.

As Senator Lavelle and many others have put it, if you’re in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging. I’ve proposed an operating budget that grows government spending less than three-tenths of one percent. It contains a 50-50 mix of spending cuts and new revenue. It’s built on the principle of shared sacrifice.

Our north star in building this budget was making Delaware more competitive. While we went line by line, deciding which programs to cut and which to preserve, which taxes to raise and which to leave untouched, we asked ourselves the same question over and over again: “How will this decision impact our ability to grow our economy and compete?”

We worked hard to be forward-looking. Focused on the future. Not to be short-sighted. To raise taxes only where our economy could bear it. To continue making investments critical to our next generation.

It would be easy to get lost in the doom and gloom of budget cuts and tax hikes. There is something in our budget for everyone not to like.

But there is more to this budget than that.

Our dreams for our children’s future don’t disappear because of a budget crisis.

The needs of our state’s most vulnerable become no less acute.

We cannot and will not let our budget challenges halt the wheels of progress.

We have work to do and we will do it. Here’s how.

The best way to move beyond a fiscal crisis like the one we’re in is to grow our economy. Stronger economic growth, and more and better jobs, helps Delaware families. And it helps us fund the state’s budget.

We need a new, more dynamic, economic development strategy. One that can leverage the resources of our business sector, as well as higher education and not for profits. The Delaware Economic Development Office needs to be at the forefront of moving Delaware into the 21st century economy. So my first act as governor was to find a way to energize our economic development efforts. We’re going to do that by bringing private sector involvement into DEDO.

A new and improved DEDO, a public private partnership, will be put to work right away creating job growth projects like Incyte’s expansion on Augustine Cutoff. It will look for ways to strengthen our pipeline of skilled workers by supporting efforts like Zip Code Wilmington and the Horn Program at the University of Delaware. It will foster a culture of innovation through partnerships with the Star Campus and the Delaware Technology Park. And it will help bring a new group of job creators with innovative ideas to our state.

The DEDO working group will issue its report next week. Then, we will get to work with the General Assembly to make DEDO more effective at attracting and retaining good-paying, middle class jobs of the future.

One of the best ways to create those jobs is to redevelop existing facilities that are unused or underutilized. That’s what’s taking place right now with JP Morgan’s reuse of buildings once owned by Astra Zeneca. Today in Delaware, the financial services sector is the biggest job creator in our state — and we want it to continue to grow. We are working on a similar strategy for turning underutilized space at the DuPont Experimental Station into an economic driver for our state.

We will also work to redevelop the brownfields that are remnants of old industrial sites, like the old steel plant in Claymont, the General Motors auto plant in Newport, and the Seaford nylon plant. One example of this type of effort is the Port of Wilmington’s recent purchase of the Chemours site at Edgemoor. Expansion is vital to the long-term viability of our port. Attracting outside investment and new business will allow us to create jobs and reduce taxpayer subsidies. This in turn helps solve our budget challenges. Another opportunity is the tremendous redevelopment that has already occurred on Wilmington’s Riverfront. With a new bridge over the Christina slated to begin by early summer, I believe we can create thousands of new jobs in the City of Wilmington.

Other brownfields will require a fresh look at our venerable Coastal Zone Act. I don’t underestimate how hard this will be. Or how important it is to protect the beautiful natural areas along our coastline. But, I’m committed to working with all the relevant stakeholders to modernize the Coastal Zone Act. Our goal is to allow redevelopment in parts of our state that were once home to good-paying manufacturing jobs. I believe we can make reasonable changes to this law that will protect our environment while allowing our economy to grow. I want us to work together over the next few months so that we leave here in June with reasonable reforms that will leave our state better off.

The focus of a revamped economic development strategy, though, needs to go beyond attracting and retaining big businesses. Agriculture remains the bedrock of the Delaware economy. The best way to preserve agriculture is to help family farmers be more profitable. One way we can do that is to help farmers in their nutrient management efforts to protect Delaware waterways. Our administration will work to develop better approaches to accomplish that objective.

Here again, innovation is the key to our future. The most important part of our long-term strategy is building on the resources we already have to help startups and large and small businesses grow and create jobs. Delaware already has a lot of the tools in place to build an economy based on innovation and entrepreneurialism. Delaware’s newest incubator, DTP @ STAR, opened last year and was full on Day 1. And resources like the Delaware Technology Park, New Castle County Chamber’s Emerging Enterprise Center, and The Mill in the old Nemours Building provide affordable and supportive space for entrepreneurs to develop their businesses. We will seek new opportunities to build more space like this and attract the entrepreneurs that will reshape our economy.

Once we have them here, we need to keep them here so Delaware can benefit from that business and job growth. In most cases, that means access to capital. We will put in place a plan to ensure that businesses that start here, can afford to grow here. We’ll put in place the resources to make sure Delaware entrepreneurs can access the capital they need, when they need it. Our state will take full advantage of the transition to an innovation-based economy.

We have always been a state that depends heavily on exports — from poultry to highly engineered products in Delaware’s biotech industry. We are pushing harder now to get more small businesses into export markets. We’ve developed the state’s first strategic export plan. Earlier this month, eight small businesses went to Germany on a trade mission organized by our Global Delaware team from the Department of State. Those companies will generate millions of dollars in new sales, while creating more jobs here at home.

Perhaps more important than anything we do to strengthen our economy is getting our schools on track, and making sure that every child is college- or career-ready. With fewer resources, we need to make better use of what we have, beginning with the Department of Education. I’ve asked Secretary Bunting to lead my effort to reorganize the Department of Education so that it’s more responsive to the needs of teachers and administrators. Educators should see the Department of Education as another player on their team — not an obstacle to progress or a drain on resources.

Starting in her first week in office, Secretary Bunting has been spending time in classrooms, with teachers, in our most vulnerable schools. She’s asking them what they need to be successful, and designing a plan to get them what they need. For each school and district, the needs will be different. One school may need a stronger pre-school program so students arrive at kindergarten ready to learn. Another may need an after-school program. Our solution will not be one size fits all.

We will be coming back to the legislature and school communities with our plan to reform the Department of Education. We will make the Department responsive to the needs of the teachers and students in the classroom.

The budget I proposed last week had almost no new spending. One exception was in educating our most vulnerable students. My budget includes a down payment on Education Opportunity Grants, a program that will direct more resources to our neediest students. The debate over district boundaries in New Castle County has been raging for years, and we will continue to engage on those issues. But we should not allow the politics of redistricting to distract us. This is about the kids. We need to incentivize innovation in the classroom, and we need to start now. Having the best schools will enable us to have the strongest economy.

A strong economy and good-paying jobs go a long way toward making most families stable and healthy. But for too many Delaware families — and far too many of our state’s children — a growing economy is not enough. These families, these kids, need our help. That’s why I’ve re-established the Family Services Cabinet Council, which meets for the first time next week. Many Delaware families continue to face significant challenges — including the high cost of child care; violence and poverty in their neighborhoods; the impact of caring for an aging family member; or the challenges of navigating an economy in transition.

The Family Services Cabinet Council will spearhead a new effort to coordinate public and private services that are often fragmented. The Council will propose changes to current programs to improve the delivery of state services. We will tackle the hardest problems: Reducing the number of substance-exposed infants. Increasing the availability of re-entry programs in prison. Expanding community center hours in crime-ridden neighborhoods. I will chair this Council myself, and my cabinet secretaries will be engaged personally. And we will hold ourselves accountable for real results.

A major impediment to families being stable and successful is the opioid crisis plaguing our state and country. When last measured, Delaware had the nation’s fifth highest overall rate of opioid sales. And in too many cases opioid abuse contributes to our state’s tragic heroin problem. Effective April 1st, we will impose new protections for the safe prescribing of opioids. These new regulations will be some of the most far-reaching in the nation. Working with Attorney General Denn, we have introduced new legislation to allow expanded use of the state’s prescription database to better target doctors who overprescribe.

Prevention is key. But, we also need an all hands on deck approach to save the lives of those battling opioid and heroin addiction. I will continue the work to increase the availability of residential treatment, recovery homes, and expanded services for outpatient treatment slots. Delaware’s Prescription Drug Action Committee has developed a set of recommendations from stakeholders across the spectrum. I will make this body permanent and give it the real authority to implement a strategic approach to battling addiction in Delaware. I’ve asked Lt. Governor Hall-Long to take the lead on coordinating state efforts in this area.

I’ve talked about how our government can be a more effective leader in the economy, education, and helping Delaware families that are struggling. But we also need to be a better leader in another important way: As the state’s largest employer, we need to set the example as a workplace that is fair, diverse, and free from discrimination. This is an area where actions speak louder than words. So earlier today, pursuant to Executive Order 6, the Office of Management and Budget transmitted to me a statewide antidiscrimination policy. This uniform policy will mean better, standardized inclusion and diversity training for state personnel. And it will ensure that state workers know where to go if they aren’t being treated fairly.

But that is not enough. In the coming weeks, I will submit a proposal for creating a separate agency whose sole focus will be Human Resources. This agency will include a Chief Diversity Officer, whose sole mission will be to promote diversity and inclusion throughout state government. The Markell Administration commissioned a report to study issues of discrimination and the lack of diversity and inclusion in state government. The report provided a series of recommendations which the Chief Diversity Officer will be responsible for implementing. I believe it is the right thing to do and I ask the General Assembly to support this effort.

No matter how well you plan for the transition as a new governor, no one is ever prepared for the tragedy that occurred on February 1st, 15 days after we took office. We lost a correctional officer, Lt. Steven Floyd, and three other correctional employees were taken hostage at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. One of those hostages is Officer Joshua Wilkinson, who’s here in the chamber with us today.

12 days after this horrible incident, we launched an independent review, led by former Justice Henry DuPont Ridgeley and former Judge Bill Chapman. I will receive their recommendations by June 1 and will work quickly with the leaders of the Correction Committees in the House and Senate to develop a plan of action. It will not be a report that collects dust on a shelf. Officer Wilkinson: I pledge to you that we will make real improvements and we will make them quickly.

All of these things, of course, will happen in the context of closing a $400 million budget deficit. Beyond the imperative to balance the budget, I believe we in government have a strong obligation to make sure we’re spending tax dollars wisely. That’s why I issued Executive Order #4 to create the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review Board – known as GEAR. This won’t be a one-time audit. Led by Secretary Geisenberger, this will be a long-term commitment to process improvement and efficiency in state government. The board will consider small things and big things – from eliminating out-of-date administrative requirements that cost time and money to eliminating boards or programs that have outlived their usefulness.

You can’t fix a structural budget problem without addressing the overwhelming cost of health care. Healthcare costs represent $1.6 billion dollars in a $4 billion budget — $800 million for Medicaid and $800 million in employee and retiree healthcare costs. I’ve directed Secretary Walker to design a comprehensive strategy for reducing the growth of these costs.

In addition to these efforts, I’ve proposed a budget that cuts state agency spending by 4.5%. It cuts school district budgets, lowers the Senior Property Tax Credit, and reduces funding for grant-in-aid. It raises taxes on the very largest businesses incorporated here. And it raises personal income taxes on Delawareans in a way that requires those who can afford to pay more to do so.

We have a lot of elected officials in the room today. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that none of us ran for office so we could cut our constituent’s favorite program or ask them to pay more in taxes.

I know that all of you in the General Assembly are tired of sitting here year after year talking about how we can climb out of another budget hole. Some things are beyond our control, but this one is not. It’s within our power, this June, to put ourselves on a more sustainable financial footing. My budget does that, and I look forward to working with each of you on your ideas to do the same. What I will not do is use budget gimmicks or one-time fixes to bail us out on June 30, only to be right back here next year giving the same speech.

At our budget town hall in Milford, a gentleman stood up and said to me, “As long as government’s cutting costs and doing more with less, I’m willing to pay a little bit more. But it’s got to be a fair trade.”

I heard this sentiment echoed up and down the state. Delawareans are willing to chip in and help with our budget problem, as long as their neighbors are asked to do the same. My budget is built on this principle of shared sacrifice. This isn’t going to be easy. But we’ve got a responsibility that’s more important than any temporary political pain.

It’s our responsibility to keep our state a great place to live and work and raise a family. A state ready to compete in the economy of the 21st century.

I know we all want that. And I know we all understand that means tough choices today that will pay off for our state tomorrow.

I look forward to working with each of you to get the job done right.

Thank you all. God bless you, God bless the State of Delaware, and God bless our great United States of America.