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GOP lawmakers question constitutionality of use of settlement funds

Delaware Public Media

Legislative Republican leaders are asking for a second legal opinion after the Joint Finance Committee set aside $2.1 million to boost policing efforts in a special session last week.



JFC is the committee that crafts the operating budget each year, but the Delaware Constitution requires the entire General Assembly sign off on state spending.

Attorney General Matt Denn (D) has been pushing for this and similar initiatives by using the roughly $31 million in financial crisis settlement money sitting stagnant in an account.


But Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle (R-Sharpley) says the legality of the move needs to be independently checked.

“To walk in and present the JFC members with an attorney general’s opinion confirming what the attorney general would like to do, you know, that should raise a question in and of itself," Lavelle said.

He also says it creates a dangerous precedent.

“You could go to someone else and say, ‘There’s an emergency around school funding. Let’s suspend the constitution.’ We’re not going to do that. Some people say there may be an emergency with respect to the development and loss of open space in their minds.”

About $1.5 million of the money will beef up police patrols in Wilmington and add a data analyst to better target areas of the city.


Dover police will get nearly $600,000 for more police patrols and video equipment under the plan.

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