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Joint Finance Committee begins work on 2020 budget

Delaware Public Media

The Joint Finance Committee has started budget hearings for the fiscal year 2020 budget.

JFC has some new faces from a year ago, including new co-chair State Rep. Quinn Johnson, and Reps. Kevin Hensley, Ruth Briggs King and Stephanie Bolden.

Gov. John Carney hopes the new roster of JFC members will decide again to hold back some money from this year’s spending plan. He’s asking them to reserve $45 million.

While Johnson said he supports saving a certain amount of money this year, other JFC members, like newly elected State Sen. Laura Sturgeon, say they may want more money to go to education or state retirees.

“It didn’t occur to me that there could be people who’ve retired back in the 70’s and are still trying to live off of 1970’s era pensions," Sturgeon said.

State Rep. Ruth Briggs King said she’s focused on making wise decisions with taxpayers’ money.

“You know, a couple years ago we were in a very bad financial condition in Delaware," she said. "We were having to do some drastic cuts, so ensuring that we’re putting money away besides the rainy day fund that we really can’t touch.”

But Briggs Kings said she’s also open to increases for retired state employees.

Some lawmakers are concerned several hundred workers who retired after June 30th last year did not receive a bonus paid to retirees nor the salary bonus for active employees included in the 2019 budget.

State Rep. Earl Jaques said there’s a shortage of school bus drivers and substitute teachers haven’t seen raises in a decade.

Hensley said he hopes they can find more funding to boost the income of adult disability support workers.

If lawmakers agree to set aside $45 million as requested by Carney, it would add to $47 million JFC put in savings last year, totaling about $92.1 million.

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