General Assembly reviews 2024 capital budget proposal
State lawmakers began reviewing Gov. Carney’s proposed 2024 capital budget this week, with school maintenance projects front-and-center in the first day's overview discussion.
Carney’s proposed $1.3 billion capital budget for fiscal year 2024 is scaled back slightly from last year’s capital budget, with some projects – like the construction of new court facilities in Kent and Sussex Counties – nearing an end.
One of the largest declines in spending appears in the proposed budget for school building maintenance and upgrades — a subject receiving heightened interest from lawmakers amid news of elevated lead levels in school buildings’ water supplies and mold in classrooms left unaddressed for years.
The 2024 capital budget plan includes six school building upgrade or repair projects, down from 21 this year. In total, the proposal would spend roughly $175 million less on education projects than in 2023.
State Senator Jack Walsh notes the $15 million in proposed spending on minor capital improvements in school buildings is clearly not enough.
“It’s something that we’ll need to talk about. Obviously, we can’t fund $1 billion worth of school work, but it’s something that needs serious consideration," he said.
Office of Management and Budget Director Cerron Cade told lawmakers the costs of ongoing school maintenance projects have ballooned.
“We’re experiencing a large amount of market pressure requests from our school districts," he said, "so we’re pulling back a little bit but we’re still funding what needs to get funded and what’s in our pipeline right now.”
Last year’s capital budget called for $68 million in market pressure relief for school repair projects; the 2024 proposed capital budget would raise that to $100 million.