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State Democrats interested but skeptical of Carney's state employee pay raise proposal

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Democratic state lawmakers have some questions about Gov. John Carney’s recommended budget.

Carney outlined a conservative budget proposal, echoing his similar proposal a year ago, despite a far greater than expected revenue surplus.

One major proposal is a new, scaling pay raise for state employees, with the lowest paid staff receiving up to a 9 percent increase.

While the concept intrigues Joint Finance Committee chair Sen. Trey Paradee (D-Dover), he wants to learn more about the impact of this kind of pay increase system.

“I’ve not seen the details; so I’m not quite sure how that is gonna graduate down from 9 to 2,” he said. “I think there’s gonna be a lot of questions, a lot of concerns about what that looks like.”

Paradee adds keeping the budget reigned in and ensuring spending is responsible remains the right approach this year.

He says lawmakers need to keep a close eye on the economic forecast in the coming months as they debate spending.

“The consumer price index most recently was up 7% , that’s the highest it’s been since 1982,” Paradee said. “This is a challenge that the Joint Finance Committee hasn’t had to deal with in 40 years.”

Republicans are floating tax cuts to return some of the excess revenue to taxpayers, mostly through lowering the personal, corporate and gross receipts taxes by up to 50 percent.

Pardee says it would be irresponsible to lower tax rates based on what the state is seeing this year, citing the effect inflation may have in coming years.

Paradee adds he wants to ensure the budget doesn’t make any service cuts or raise any taxes.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.