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Settlement money plan hits another snag with lawmakers

Delaware Public Media

State budget lawmakers punted on divvying up the $28.3 million left over from legal settlements surrounding the 2008 mortgage crisis Tuesday after finding little consensus.



The plan released by the Joint Finance Committee mirrored much of what Attorney General Matt Denn (D) has been requesting for the past two years.


You can look at the breakdown of the proposal from JFC here.


But some on JFC thought a large portion of the money should go directly toward housing related initiatives instead of helping kids with their homework after school or to boost funding for low-income schools.


"It bothers me that we're talking about using this money for broadband and smoke detectors and all kinds of things that are unrelated to bank foreclosures," said Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Stanton), with many on JFC echoing those sentiments.


Rep. Joe Miro (R-Pike Creek Valley) specifically wanted to exclude $8 million in funding for after school programs, though he said he supports the idea personally. To him, Miro says that money could be better served by plugging a newly revealed gap in the Medicaid budget next year rather than funding new programs with one-time money.


"We cannot be foolish about this," said . "The request for the need that may exist there in after school programs, as well as early remediation of at-risk students, is not going to go away with funding for one year."


Co-chair Sen. Harris McDowell (D-Wilmington North) says he was “a little disappointed” that no vote was taken, but he wasn’t surprised.


“A windfall in the legislative process is often difficult. We have different ideas on how to do it. We thought we had a consensus brewing, but apparently, we didn’t have enough tea leaves in the pot," McDowell said.



The close resemblance to Denn's plan peeved Sen. Dave Lawson (R-Marydel). "We've gone through four generations of this plan, but we still snuggled up to the [attorney general]."


Lawmakers on JFC used part of the settlement money last year to fill budget holes -- a move that sparked a lawsuit filed in December.


They also set aside $1.5 million to help boost policing efforts in Wilmington, but Mayor Dennis Williams balked at requirements to pry open how the department operates, saying it was government overreach. $600,000 was awarded to Dover Police Department for increased patrols and other initiatives.


No vote was taken on the plan and one is not scheduled at this time.

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