Gov. Carney unveils 2021 budget plan
Pay raises for state employees and educators, and heavy investment schools highlight Gov. John Carney’s proposed fiscal year 2021 budget.
Carney’s spending plan comes in at just over $4.6 billion, a projected increase of 3.99 percent from this year.
The proposal includes adding about $35 million to a reserve fund, leaving $161.5 million surplus there.
"I think the most important thing is the approach," said Carney. "Our approach is to make sure that the spending target is sustainable in the long term to have additional reserves so that when the economy does soften we're not forced to raise taxes and cut as we were three years ago. That's the most important thing. It's a very different approach then we've used over the last 40 years."
The budget features a two percent increase for state employees and educators not covered by collective bargaining agreements.
Education is a big piece of the budget pie, with over half of the $170 million in new spending proposed going to education.
And in a record capital budget ask of nearly $893 million sets aside nearly $184 million for school construction and renovation. Carney’s previously announced $50 million request to build a school and repair others in Wilmington is part of that request.
Carney says that’s not preferential treatment for Wilmington when you look at how his budget distributes money up and down the state for various proposals.
“Consider a lot of the other resources in terms of farmland preservation, beach preservation and water facilities, and I think there’s quite a bit of equity and fairness, it’s for the whole state," said Carney. "Everybody benefits.”
Carney points out much of the $50 million dollars he wants to spend on clean water is for downstate initiatives and there’s also $17.5 million earmarked for new Family Court facilities in Kent and Sussex County. He adds money targeting affordable housing and Downtown Development Districts goes statewide.
Carney’s plan also sends another $10 million each to the University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Delaware Tech for campus improvements
He’s also seeking $10 million dollars to help develop new lab space for start-ups that grow out of incubators at UD’s STAR Campus and the Experimental Station in New Castle County.
Carney is leaving the state’s Grant-In-Aid package at $55.1 million and has a one-time supplemental request that will go largely toward holding Delaware's 2020 elections.
The budget now heads to the Joint Finance and Bond Bill Committees for hearings. Those hearing begin next week.