Governor Carney Signs Fiscal Year 2019 Budget and Supplemental Appropriation

Cements $4.2 billion state budget with $49 million supplemental appropriation for one-time bonuses

 

DOVER, Del. – On Thursday, Governor John Carney signed Senate Bill 235 – the Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriation Act. This budget, which received final passage by the General Assembly this week, provides a balanced $4.2 billion financial plan that makes investments in Delaware’s economy, workforce and public schools.

The supplemental budget, Senate Bill 236, passed today in the Delaware House, appropriates funds to provide a $500 one-time salary supplement to full-time and part-time employees, as well as supplements to pensioners and one-time funded priority projects.

“When we presented our budget proposal in January, we were focused on making responsible decisions, using one-time revenue for one-time investments, and helping keep our state competitive. The budget I signed today accomplishes those goals,” said Governor Carney. “This is a responsible budget that will invest in our highest-needs schools, and help us recruit and retain teachers where they’re needed most. We are making new investments to confront the opioid crisis, and giving state employees a well-deserved raise. I want to thank members of the Joint Finance Committee and the entire General Assembly for their efficient work on this budget, and for making responsible decisions that will help us continue to address our long-term, structural challenges.”

“This year’s budget process was unlike any other in my 42 years in government and should serve as an example for subsequent General Assemblies,” said Harris McDowell, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee. “The surplus has been headline news since late last year – and rightly so – but this year was also defined by a spirit of cooperation and an attention to detail that should make all Delawareans proud. Thanks to the diligent work of the Joint Finance Committee, we completed this budget in record time and passed a final version that faithfully mirrors the priorities and values of this state. It is responsible, sensible, and fair and I want to once again thank my colleagues on the Joint Finance Committee, co-chair Melanie George Smith, and all of our elected officials that worked so hard to get us across the finish line today.”

“My colleagues on the Joint Finance Committee worked hard in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that we used the taxpayers’ dollars in a fiscally responsible way,” said Representative Melanie George Smith, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee. “We have been able to meet our core obligations and provide vital services that Delawareans rely on, while restoring funding we were forced to cut in more difficult years and putting funds in reserve for future years. This spending plan is a testament to responsible budgeting.”

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Highlights of the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget:

 

RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT

  • Limits operating budget growth to 3.99%
  • Sets aside over $46 million by only appropriating 97% of available revenue
  • Funds long-term liabilities such as pensions and debt service
  • Funds “door openers” such as:
    • $20.9 million for school enrollment growth
    • $8.8 million for quality child care for more children
    • $3.0 million to ensure fair elections
  • Generates over $5 million in savings in areas such as energy, fleet services and restructuring of the Department of Education

BETTER SCHOOLS FOR ALL DELAWARE CHILDREN

Investing in Educators 

  •  $10.2 million for annual salary step, plus a 2% general salary increase for educators statewide

Investing in Early Education

  •  $3.8 million to fund growth in Delaware’s early learning centers through the STARS program

Investing in High-Needs Schools

  • $6.0 million to expand the Opportunity Grants program, with targeted investments into schools with high percentages of students at the poverty level and/or English Language Learners (ELL) students

Investing in the City of Wilmington

  • $1.5 million for the Christina School District schools located in the City of Wilmington

INVESTING IN OUR WORKFORCE

Investing in State Workers and Educators:

  • $1,000 annual raise for state workers
  • 2% raise for teachers statewide, on top of annual step increases
  • $500 one-time bonus for all state employees
  • $400 one-time supplement for all retirees

High Needs Area Public Safety:

  • Funding for second year of correctional officer raises to $43,000 starting salary
  • $3.6 million for implementation of correctional officer career ladder
  • $2.3 million to fund implementation of the Department of Correction Independent Review recommendations
  • Establishment of a dedicated Special Operations Response Team (SORT) unit in the Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

High Needs Area – Children’s Services:

  • $4.2 million to add 30 new casework staff and contractual support in the Division of Family Services to bolster child welfare, abuse and neglect hotline investigations
  • $2.0 million to add 29 new staff members in the Division of Youth Rehabilitative services to meet staffing needs in six secure facilities, and reduce mandatory overtime

A HEALTHIER DELAWARE

Investments toward improving Delawareans’ health:

  • $1.4 million to expand substance abuse treatment
  • $3 million to implement recommendations of the Behavioral Health Consortium Report
  • $4.6 million for contractual increases for provider partners providing services to those with disabilities
  • $285,000 to expand resources for substance-exposed infants
  • $2.0 million in prescription assistance for Delaware seniors and $850,000 to support Senior Nutrition Services

 


Governor Carney’s Statement on Joint Finance Committee Vote to Limit Spending

WILMINGTON, Del.Governor John Carney on Tuesday issued the following statement on the Joint Finance Committee’s vote to appropriate only 97 percent of available revenue this year and conserve surplus revenue:

“Delaware has a tradition of fiscal responsibility, and I want to thank members of the Joint Finance Committee for their vote today, which shows restraint, and a commitment to making responsible, long-term decisions about our finances. On our current pace and without action, our spending needs will outgrow our ability to pay for them. That’s why we’ve been focused since taking office on addressing our long-term challenges, on responsibly investing one-time revenue, and on making sure we don’t spend beyond our means. This will require a long-term commitment. Today’s vote is a major step toward that commitment and I look forward to working with the entire General Assembly through this session to ensure this additional surplus revenue is set aside. Thank you to members of the Joint Finance Committee for their partnership in this effort.”

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Related news:
Governor Carney, JFC Co-Chairs Release Statements on DEFAC Estimates
OP-ED: Soaring health care costs are holding Delaware back
Governor Carney’s Statement on Budget Smoothing Report


Governor Carney, JFC Co-Chairs Release Statements on DEFAC Estimates

WILMINGTON, Del.Governor John Carney and the co-chairs of the General Assembly’s Joint Finance Committee, Senator Harris McDowell and Representative Melanie George Smith, released the following statements Monday on the latest revenue estimates from the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council:

“We’ve been focused since I took office on limiting spending growth, on directing one-time revenue into one-time investments, and on making sure we don’t spend beyond our means. These new estimates don’t change our priorities,” said Governor Carney. “The fact remains that our spending needs over the next several years will outgrow our ability to pay for them. If we fail to show restraint, we are setting ourselves up for difficult budget challenges next year or the year after that could require us to cut the very programs we’re funding this year. Over the next two weeks, we will work with chairs of the Joint Finance Committee on a sustainable budget plan that makes important investments but conserves resources, and sets us up for the long term.”

“During the Joint Finance Committee hearings this spring we heard from a number of Delawareans advocating for support for issues such as education, substance abuse treatment, corrections and investing in our workforce,” said Senator McDowell. “Over the next two weeks we will debate these issues with the goal of producing a prudent, sustainable spending plan that limits base budget growth while addressing the needs of Delawareans for Fiscal Year 2019 and beyond.”

“We are fortunate that the DEFAC estimates have been trending upward this spring,” said Representative Smith. “As a result, we will be able to address areas of highest priority for funding. However, this does not necessarily mean that we should irresponsibly increase ongoing spending, but look to limit ongoing costs and direct surplus revenue into one-time investments or savings.”

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OP-ED: Soaring health care costs are holding Delaware back. Here’s what we’re doing to fix them.

Op-ed by Rick Geisenberger, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Finance

Over the next several weeks, as we complete another budget debate in Dover, we should not lose sight of Delaware’s long-term challenges and of one issue in particular: the rising cost of health care.

The projected growth rate for state spending on health care services will more than double our expected growth rate in available revenue over the next two years. Next year alone, Delaware taxpayers will spend more than $1.3 billion on health care — primarily on state employee benefits and Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides insurance for low-income Delawareans, those with disabilities, and older residents that require long-term care.

In January, Governor Carney proposed a 2019 budget plan focused on investing in Delaware’s economy, in high-needs schools, and communities across our state. The governor’s budget proposal limits spending growth to 3.5 percent — an increase far below available revenue this year, and one that is sustainable over the long term.

But if we hope to continue making investments that matter, we cannot continue on our current path.

State spending on health care now accounts for more than 30 percent of the state’s budget. Simply put, the growth of state spending on health care crowds out investments in schools, communities, infrastructure, and our economy that would move our state forward.

And this is not an issue unique to state government. Health care spending severely strains the budgets of Delaware families and businesses up and down our state, limiting household spending and making it harder for companies to invest and create jobs.

A few statistics tell the tale:

Delaware’s health care spending per person exceeds the national average by more than 27 percent. Among states, only Alaska and Massachusetts spend more. And we’re not getting our money’s worth. Delaware ranks 30th in terms of overall health quality.

Workers’ contributions for health care have increased 40 percent since 2010, while Delaware wages have increased only 25 percent.
Health care spending per person has increased every year since 1991, even as our economy has grown and contracted through recession and recovery.

To be clear, health care is an important sector of Delaware’s economy, accounting for 12.5 percent of the state’s workforce, and thousands of jobs. But we cannot ignore concerns that health care costs are growing dramatically faster than other measures of economic growth.

To address these issues last year, the General Assembly enacted and Governor Carney signed House Joint Resolution 7, authorizing the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) to establish a benchmark, with a growth rate for health care spending linked to growth in our overall economy. DHSS will select the methods to measure and report on the total cost of health care and identify metrics to measure and track spending and quality across our health care system.

Governor Carney established the Health Care Delivery and Cost Advisory Group to assist in this process and provide feedback to DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker.

 

 

The good news is that there is a great deal of consensus and energy about the importance of this work among Delaware’s purchasers and providers of health care services. But, understandably, some providers are concerned that, in the future, a benchmark might be used to set price controls or create spending caps on private health care spending.

To be clear, this is not at all the purpose for the benchmark.

Our goal is to provide additional price transparency and attention to the underlying costs and quality of health care delivery across the state. Delaware families and businesses deserve to know how much they are paying for health procedures, and what they’re getting for their money.

With better information, we can analyze and report on variations in cost and quality. We can make this data available to policymakers and health care providers so that everyone better understands the sources of cost growth. Most importantly, we can use this information to work collaboratively to address unwarranted variations in costs and quality.

As the state’s chief financial officer, I’m keenly aware of the importance of bending the health care cost curve to more closely align with public and private resources available to cover these costs. At the Delaware Department of Finance, we believe it’s critical that the process for setting health care benchmarks be verifiable, transparent, and independently generated. Dr. Walker already has engaged the health care community significantly in this effort and this commitment will continue.

The challenge presented by the growth of health care spending is a national problem. But many solutions will need to be local. Delaware’s size — and our history of working together to solve difficult problems — means we are uniquely equipped to bring all stakeholders to the table to address this challenge.

As Governor Carney has said, lowering health care costs while improving quality is the most important thing we can do for the future health of our economy, our citizens and our finances.

Click here to learn more about the health care spending benchmark.


ADVISORY: Governor Carney Announces School Visits to Discuss Proposed Investments in Public Education

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney will spend several days highlighting proposed investments in teachers, high-needs schools, and early learning. Governor Carney will make several stops at schools across Delaware. The Governor also will host a Facebook Live Town Hall with Dr. Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education, and take questions on the state’s work to ensure that all Delaware children have access to a high-quality education.

MEDIA: Please RSVP to Jessica Borcky (Jessica.Borcky@state.de.us) if you plan to attend. The Governor will have media availability at each stop.

Tuesday, February 27

HIGHLIGHTING OPPORTUNITY GRANTS

WHAT: Visit Mount Pleasant Elementary School to highlight the school’s Opportunity Grant program, and the proposed expansion of non-competitive Opportunity Grants for all qualifying schools.

WHO: Governor John Carney
Mark Holodick, Superintendent, Brandywine School District
Matthew Auerbach, Principal, Mount Pleasant Elementary School

WHEN: Tuesday, February 27, 2018
9:00 a.m.

WHERE: Mount Pleasant Elementary School
500 Duncan Road
Wilmington, DE 19809

INVESTING IN EDUCATORS

WHAT: Listening session with Alfred G. Waters Middle School sixth grade teachers during their professional learning community (“PLC”) as they discuss curriculum, student data, successes, and challenges. Governor Carney’s proposed budget includes $10.2 million to fully fund annual steps for educators, and a 2 percent salary increase for educators statewide.

WHO: Governor John Carney
Matt Burrows, Superintendent, Appoquinimink School District
Tom Poehlmann, Principal, Alfred G. Waters Middle School
Sixth grade teachers

WHEN: Tuesday, February 27, 2018
10:20 a.m.

WHERE: Alfred G. Waters Middle School
1235 Cedar Lane Road
Middletown, DE 19709

FACEBOOK LIVE TOWN HALL – “BETTER SCHOOLS FOR ALL DELAWARE CHILDREN”

WHAT: Facebook Live Town Hall with Governor Carney and Dr. Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education, to discuss proposed investments in teachers, high-needs schools, and early learning. Governor Carney and Secretary Bunting will also take questions on the state’s work to ensure that all Delaware children have access to a high-quality education.

WHO: Governor John Carney
Dr. Susan Bunting, Secretary, Delaware Department of Education

WHEN: Tuesday, February 27, 2018
7:00 p.m.

WHERE: Facebook.com/JohnCarneyDE
Delawareans can ask questions in advance by posting in this Facebook event.

Wednesday, February 28

HIGHLIGHTING OPPORTUNITY GRANTS

WHAT: Visit Phillis Wheatley Elementary School to highlight the school’s Opportunity Grant program and Governor Carney’s proposed expansion of non-competitive Opportunity Grants for all qualifying schools. Phillis Wheatley Elementary School also has a Basic Needs Closet that provides increased access to free products designed to meet students’ needs so they can effectively participate in class.

WHO: Governor John Carney
Michele Marinucci, Director of Student Services, Woodbridge School District

WHEN: Wednesday, February 28, 2018
11:00 a.m.

WHERE: Phillis Wheatley Elementary School
48 Church Street
Bridgeville, DE 19933

HIGHLIGHTING MATH COACHES

WHAT: Meeting with Superintendent Dan Shelton, Principal Green and math coach Annette Roskom, and visit a math classroom. Governor Carney’s proposed budget includes a $1 million investment for math coaches.

WHO: Governor John Carney
Dan Shelton, Superintendent, Capital School District
Shan Green, Principal, Central Middle School
Annette Roskom, Math Coach
Students

WHEN: Wednesday, February 28, 2018
1:00 p.m.

WHERE: Central Middle School
211 Delaware Ave
Dover, DE 19901

HIGHLIGHTING EARLY EDUCATION AND STARS PROGRAM

WHAT: Visit classrooms at The Goddard School and read to students in honor of “I Love to Read Month” – highlighting early childhood education and Governor Carney’s proposed $3.8 million investment to fund Delaware’s early learning centers through the STARS program.

WHO: Governor John Carney
Stacey Stickel, Owner, The Goddard School
Students

WHEN: Wednesday, February 28, 2018
3:00 p.m.

WHERE: The Goddard School
50 Polly Drummond Hill Road
Newark, DE 19711