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Politics & Government

Lawmakers weigh in on Gov. Carney's budget proposal

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Joe Irizarry
/
Delaware Public Media

Lawmakers getting a first look at Gov. Carney’s budget proposal are offering their initial reactions to his spending plan.

The chair of the budget writing Joint Finance Committee, State Senator Harris McDowell (D-Wilmington North) complemented Carney for thinking and planning strategically – calling the budget proposal a good road map. 

But McDowell says his committee will take a closer look a few things, including a second straight year of record capital spending – up $30 million from $863 million this year.

“We put an enormous amount toward capital last year," said McDowell. "We’re in a strong growth period – and you might have a question – how much capital money can you expend at this point.  So, I think we’ll look at that.”

 

Carney's capital budget plan is already facing pushback on spending $50 million to build a school and repair two others in the City of Wilmington.

Some downstate lawmakers worry about inequity in spending up and down the state.

Gov. Carney argues that spending on schools is well distributed and Kent and Sussex Counties will receive more dollars for things like for clean water, farmland preservation and new Family Courthouses

But State Rep. Ruth Briggs-King (R-Georgetown) says her constituents may not buy that.

“I think they tend to look at education separately because a lot of education – some of the other funding and keeping up with that – is coming out of property tax.  And so they’re looking at the different pots of that," said Briggs-King. "And we have some pretty savvy folks who watch that kind of thing for equity.”

Briggs-King, who also sits on also Joint Finance Committee, was pleased to see Gov. Carney’s continued commitment to putting some funds into reserves.

But she notes while lawmakers have generally come around to Carney’s push to save for future years, there’s still a potential for pushback.

“I think that as the account grows people will be looking at that and saying how much is enough and should we be refunding the taxpayers their money by lowering something or by returning that money in another investment,” Briggs-King said.

 

Briggs-King says she’d like to look at reducing the state’s realty transfer tax that was increased to help fill a deficit in the state’s 2018 budget.

The Joint Finance Committee begins its budget hearings next week.