The Joint Finance Committee finished work on the last of the budget bills for next year.
And this is the largest Grant-in-Aid bill in state history.
Lawmakers are appropriating about $63.2 million towards the state’s various non-profits, arts organizations and fire companies. That's a little over $9 million more than the FY 2021 allocation.
Disclosure: Delaware First Media, the parent company of Delaware Public Media, received 150,000 from the Grants-in-Aid budget during the current fiscal year
$7 million of that surplus goes towards one-time funding, since most of the surplus isn’t expected to be recurring.
And most organizations except for those in health services received a boost in grant funding.
Lawmakers also discussed their disappointment in not being able to allocate more money towards childcare providers in the state.
State Sen. Elizabeth Lockman (D-Wilmington) says despite this year’s faults, the committee will continue to work to see that issue can be addressed.
“We’ve discussed amongst ourselves the intention to have some study sessions to make sure that the entire committee is well apprised of all the inputs and outputs around purchase of care so that next year we can come in better informed to take actions,” Lockman says.
State budgets are typically very complicated, and not every member on the committee may be knowledgeable about every aspect, so lawmakers hope to tackle this portion to help service providers get the funds they need.
Lawmakers also made a few other changes in the bill this year, including requiring that all funds allocated must go towards Delaware residents; some grants go to out-of-state groups that provide programming in Delaware.
JFC members also approved exempting winners in the state’s COVID-19 vaccine incentive program from state taxes on their prizes.
Budget Director Cerron Cade says this is another move to help people recover from the pandemic.
“I think another thing to point out is we’ve already exempted this body, JFC but the General Assembly also exempted individuals who are on unemployment from paying state taxes for unemployment received during that time period as well,” Cade says.
Prize winners will still face federal taxes on cash, concert tickets, and tuition scholarships they win.
Some JFC members also offered statements about future budget issues, such as ensuring any salary increases for state employees also include charter school workers, something State Rep. Kim Williams (D-Stanton/Newport) says the charter schools are lobbying against.
The Grant-in-Aid bill awaits approval from the full House and Senate - along with the Bond Bill.
Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.