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JFC approves FY 2020 spending increases, but some groups want more

Delaware Public Media

The Joint Finance Committee approved spending more money in Fiscal Year 2020. Budget officials estimate JFC’s spending plan totals about 4.45 billion dollars, about a 4.2 percent increase over this year’s budget.

The committee approved increases for child care providers and Direct Support Professionals, but both groups still earn less than current market rates. Direct Support Professionals care for adults with disabilities.

The Michael McNesby Act - signed into law last year - committed to fully funding services for adults with disabilities. The latest market rate study finds the workers in Delaware are about $42 million underfunded.

Lawmakers gave them $4.6 million this year and JFC voted to give them $4.2 million for FY 2020.

“Here’s the thing, we have the money this year in Dove," McNesby’s sister Teesie Bonk said. Bonk cared for McNesby, who had Down Syndrome for many years. "And that’s what’s so frustrating, the money is there. We’re just asking the governor, JFC, Mike Jackson, we’re just asking them to do the right thing.”

Several JFC committee members advocated for giving adult care providers more money. But no one made a motion to add the funding.

Thomas Cook with Ability Network of Delaware said many of these workers are leaving for higher paying jobs.

“We don’t want to go back to providing services in institutional settings," he said. "We believe in community-based services. But if people are leaving their jobs and you can’t replace them, it’s going to be more and more difficult for those community services to survive.”

Committee members approved bill language that would assess rates of all providers and determine a fair way to raise wages for all of them.

JFC’s FY 2020 spending plan also includes about $62 million in one-time appropriations, a sizable hike from $49.2 million in supplemental appropriations for FY 2019.

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