On the wings of another staggering surplus, Gov. John Carney on Tuesday signed the $5.1 billion 2023 operating budget for Delaware.
It takes effect Friday, July 1.
The operating budget, Senate Bill 250, is the largest in Delaware’s history, reflecting a rise in spending of 6.9% in spending over the previous year.
It also will increase Delaware’s Rainy Day Fund from $280 million to $316 million and the Budget Stabilization Fund from $287 million to $402 million.
The heads of the Joint Finance Committee, which are responsible for writing state budgets after Carney submits his suggested one, said in both the Delaware Senate and House that the bills contained something for everyone.
Republicans in both houses said they could support the budget despite its increase in expenses because of the money being put into the Rainy Day and Stabilization funds. Delaware dipped into that Stabilization fund for the 2021 budget to cope with revenue losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But both the 2022 and fiscal 2023 budgets have benefited from $1 billion surpluses in the last two years, largely from federal COVID-19 funds and huge realty transfer taxes when property sold.
The 2023 operating budget itself includes pay increases for state employees, including 2% to 9% increases for all merit employees and increases for public school transportation drivers. All state employees will also be receiving a $500 one-time bonus.
The $378.6 million one-time supplemental appropriation includes funding for the implementation of paid family leave, among other things.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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