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Lawmakers set to finish 2019 Bond Bill this week

Delaware Public Media

The Joint Capital Improvement Committee faces some difficult choices on funding for Delaware’s colleges and universities.

The state’s higher education institutions all say they have tens of millions in deferred maintenance needs - including the University of Delaware.

But lawmakers are split on whether UD is a public university that should get taxpayer funding.

Bond bill committee chair Quinn Johnson said that’s a question lawmakers need to weigh themselves when they vote on the floor. He says the committee won’t decide it - even if it recommends UD get millions in taxpayer money.

“That debate needs to be determined to say you know ‘Do we as a legislative body’ put them in that category that they are that fact," he said. "And I know that there has been or will be - there’s been legislation discussed.”

UD President Dennis Assanis has said his school is privately governed, but publicly supported.

UD is asking for $60 million in the next fiscal year for a new biopharma building. Assanis argues projects like that one make the university a major economic driver in the state.

The state’s neighborhood roads depend on state lawmakers to pay for repair and maintenance. And committee members are also weighing whether to allocate themselves more money for those subdivision projects.

State Rep. Sean Matthews said he supports giving more money to lawmakers whose districts have more road maintenance needs than others.

“Right now we do projects so small that we come into a neighborhood, we do a very small section. We come back next and do the next section and the next section," he said. "Whereas if we had more investment, we could come in and do all the roads at one time that need to be done.”

But the community transportation funding has its critics - including Matthews. He has complained the Delaware Department of Transportation doesn’t do enough to keep up with subdivision road conditions.

Matthews is offering a resolution encouraging DelDOT to consistently review neighborhood roads.

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