Gov. John Carney (D) is moving forward with his budget smoothing plan without state lawmakers.
The governor signed an executive order Saturday creating a budget smoothing fund and implement other recommendations from a budget advisory task force of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) after Democrats shelved a proposed Constitutional amendment that sought to do that.
The amendment would have converted the state’s rainy day reserve into this new fund. Carney’s executive order leaves the rainy day fund intact and doesn’t appropriate money to a new account - because both of those require lawmakers’ approval.
The executive order also creates a budget benchmark to control spending. DEFAC will calculate the state’s revenue and the current 98 percent appropriation limit and label the difference a surplus or a shortfall. Carney said he decided to implement recommendations from budget advisory panel because of his party’s inaction.
“We still believe that the recommendations that the committee has come up with is a better way to manage our state finances in a responsible way and to protect some of those populations, state agencies and nonprofit agencies that they care so much about,” Carney said.
House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) said Democratic lawmakers weren’t comfortable with moving ahead on a budget smoothing Consitution this year.
Longhurst said it’s the governor’s right to sign the executive order, but the legislature will continue to produce fiscally responsible budgets.
“But again, you’ve got people down here that have been doing budgets like myself for 14 years and this’ll be the third year of the governor," she said. "I mean, you’ve got a lot of seniority down here that been doing budgets for many years."
Republican state senators praised Carney’s executive order.
"While attempts were made by the Governor during this year’s budget process to rein in the General Assembly, the state will still spend nearly 10 percent more next year than we did this year," the Republicans Senate Caucus said in a statement. "This is unwise and unsustainable, but we are hopeful that the commitments made by the Governor today will result in a better budgeting process as we move forward."
In their own statement, House Republicans called the executive order "well-intentioned." But they added that "such an order is binding only on the executive branch and will not prevent the General Assembly’s majority budget writers from disregarding it."