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Delaware House Democrats

House Passes $5.6 Billion Operating Budget for Fiscal 2024

June 22, 2023

DOVER – The House passed a $5.6 billion operating budget for fiscal 2024 on Thursday, approving a spending plan that provides a meaningful raise for state workers, and invests in families throughout the state, schools, healthcare workers, firefighters, educators and people with disabilities.

The budget, along with a $194.5 million supplemental spending plan consisting of one-time expenditures and contingency funds, now head to the Senate for consideration.

“The Joint Finance Committee had a difficult task of balancing numerous, worthwhile funding requests against the need to be responsible. We’ve been able to work together to provide – for the second consecutive year – a real raise for state employees and fund various programs that provide necessary services to residents up and down our state,” said Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. William Carson. “I’m proud of this budget and what it represents to Delawareans – that we value our workers, teachers, seniors, healthcare workers, parents and children. I hope that our investments make a real difference in people’s lives. I’m also proud of how legislators from both parties worked together to assemble this budget.”

The operating budget, House Bill 195, is the result of months of public hearings and meetings to review Governor Carney’s spending plan, which he proposed in January, and to solicit input from state officials, lawmakers and the public about how to best invest revenues. The fiscal 2024 budget represents a 9.9% increase from the current budget.

“The FY 2024 operating budget is fiscally responsible spending plan that will make critical investments in our state workforce, the education of our children and the long-term health of of our neighbors, while also positioning Delaware to weather any economic turmoil coming our way in the next few years,” said Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover. “I want to thank my colleagues on JFC for remaining steadfast in their commitment to balance these investments in Delaware’s future against our need to hold the line on spending from one year to the next. I’m grateful to the House for passing this budget, and I look forward to the Senate passing it in the coming days.”

HB 195 would add $10.2 million to Delaware’s Purchase of Care program, a subsidy that provides support for early childhood and after-school education for children from birth through age 12 living within 185% of the Federal Poverty Limit. The funds help low-income families pay for their childcare so that parents or guardians can work or receive workforce training.

The budget also includes an additional $30 million to increase mental health supports in elementary and middle schools as spelled out in bills passed during the previous legislative session.

As part of the budget, full-time state workers would receive a raise ranging from 3% to 9% depending on their pay grade, with the lowest grades receiving higher-percentage raises. Collective bargaining units would receive raises according to whatever they have negotiated. Education employees would receive a 3% raise and applicable step increases, while teachers would receive an additional 6%. The budget also establishes a $15 minimum wage for merit full-time state employees.

Other notable highlights in HB 195 include:

  • Over $48.7 million added to cover the state share of state employee and state retiree health insurance premiums to ensure existing health benefits remain intact.
  • $160 million added to cover inflation and volume increases in statewide Medicaid service needs.
  • $8 million to increase home health and personal care Medicaid reimbursement rates.
  • $5 million for long-term care skilled nursing facilities, leveraging another $7.5 million in federal funds.
  • $29 million to cover projected growth in our schools as the pre-k to 12 population reaches over 141,000 enrolled students.
  • $20 million for the Redding Consortium and Wilmington Learning Collaborative to target education and support services for Wilmington students.
  • $10.2 million to increase Purchase of Care payments made to childcare providers to reach 100% of Benchmark Rate of the 2021 Market Rate Study.
  • $6.1 million to double the number of half-day pre-k seats available through the Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP).
  • $2.7 million toward school transportation by increasing the minimum hourly rate for bus drivers to $22.50/hour.
  • $2.2 million to begin implementation of House Bill 2 – creating the Office of the Marijuana Commissioner and providing the startup needs across state agencies for marijuana regulation.

The one-time supplemental budget, House Bill 196, includes funding for various initiatives and statewide needs, including:

  • $69 million in one-time contingency funds for Medicaid to ensure funding is available as statewide enrollment/unwinding efforts complete.
  • $50.9 million to be deposited to the Other Post Employment Benefits Trust Fund to address the outstanding long-term liability costs associated with retiree health benefits.
  • $30 million for housing investments statewide to address Delaware’s housing crisis.
  • Over $13 million in technology needs throughout state agencies.
  • $3.8 million for the filter first initiative to address lead remediation efforts in schools.
  • $2.7 million for the 2024 Presidential primary election, including an increase in pay for poll workers.
  • $2 million for residential lead remediation efforts outlined in Senate Bill 9.
  • $1.9 million in one-time funds to implement House Bill 2, the Marijuana Control Act.

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