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Politics & Government

Senate passes $5.1 billion spending package

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Roman Battaglia
/
Delaware Public Media

Delaware's state Senate passed a $5.1 billion operating budget with an additional $378 million in one-time spending on Tuesday, boosted by this year’s uptick in state revenues.

With robust revenue streams coming from both personal income and corporate taxes, Delaware’s projected revenues for fiscal year 2023 could surpass $6.3 billion – an increase that prompted Senate lawmakers to support the state’s first budget to surpass $5 billion.

State Sen. Trey Paradee, the chair of the General Assembly’s Joint Finance Committee, says the proposed increase in spending is still lower than current rates of inflation.

“I would point out that there have been a lot of years in which state spending has far outpaced inflation," he said, "so for us to come in at around an 6.85% increase in spending – that is well below inflation, which today is in the area of about 8.5%.”

The Senate also passed a bill setting aside $378 million in one-time spending, including $38 million to boost pensions for volunteer firefighters.

Paradee argues much of the new spending focuses on hiring and retaining state employees, including raises of up to 9% for the lowest-earning employees. That is part of a broader attempt to stem staffing shortages in practically every critical state agency.

Only two Senate Republicans opposed the operating budget. The supplemental spending bill passed unanimously. They now head to the House.

The Bond Bill for capital spending and a Grant-in-Aid bill still await consideration.