The first piece of Delaware’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget puzzle is in place.
Gov. John Carney (D) signed the $4.45 billion operating budget Tuesday shortly after the state Senate passed it with only State Sen. Colin Bonini (R-Dover South) voting no.
Carney also signed supplemental legislation appropriating nearly $62 million in one-time funding. The Senate passed that unanimously.
The budget includes $20 million in Opportunity Funding for low-income students and English Language Learners.
Delaware plans to spend $75 million in Opportunity funding on schools over the next three years. Carney said much of this year’s money is in the supplemental bill to see if it’s effective enough to become an ongoing expenditure.
“That’s a way of saying ‘This is not a guarantee.’ We want it to be ongoing," he said. "But let’s make sure that we not just wasting the money," said Carney. "Let’s evaluate the programs that we’re putting in place.”
The budget also includes $26 million in block grants for reading coaches, wellness centers and K-3 special education services.
Other items include raises for state employees, funding for more Family Services caseworkers and adding dental services for adults on Medicaid.
Carney said the budget continues improvements in the Department of Correction begun in response the 2017 deadly prison riot at Vaughn Correctional Center. But it includes fewer general fund positions for correctional officers and doubles the prison bureau chief’s budget.
Carney said they’ve increased salaries and reduced the amount of forced overtime for officers.
“It’s a function both of more people coming in, live bodies, more correctional officers, over those leaving the back door," he said. "And the fact that we temporarily moved 300 inmates out of state.”
The budget for the Bureau Chief of Prisons, Shane Troxler, is rising from about $1 million to about $2.3 million. Probation and parole officers are also getting 4 percent salary increases annually over the next four years.
Lawmakers still need to pass the FY2020 Bond Bill, detailing the state's capital spending plan, and Grant-in-Aid, which funds volunteer fire companies, county paramedic services, senior centers and a whole host of Delaware nonprofits.