A 2024 state budget that’s 10% higher than 2023’s led eight Republicans to vote against it Thursday in the House of Representatives, but that didn’t stop it from passing.
House Bill 195, sponsored by Rep. William Carson, D-Smyrna, delineated how the $5.6 billion budget will be spent over the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Carson is the vice chairman of the Joint Finance Committee, which hammers out the budget.
It’s about a $600 million increase from the previous year’s budget, partly because of millions that had to be devoted to Medicaid and retiree healthcare.
Rep. Lyndon Yearick, R-Camden, announced he would not vote for the bill because of that increase. He thanked the committee for their work in trying circumstances.
“That 10% is now baked in,” said Yearick, who is also the House minority whip. “If we look at inflation 4%, 5%, 8% and look at it compared to the state of our economy growing, I don’t think we’re growing that fast.”
Yearick said he’s not advocating against something specific, such as increases to teacher pay or additional increases to any department.
“However, I do rise with concern that that level of an increase is not only going to make the next year’s budget harder, but the following yea and the following year.”
Fellow Republican Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, a member of the Joint Finance Committee, said the larger than usual increase was due to inflation.
“I think this is one of the largest increases we’ve ever had,” Briggs King said. “And people are going to look back and they’re gonna say that’s almost a 10% increase. And I’m going to say yes, but when we’re facing unprecedented inflation that we have 8% or more, the state has to keep pace with that inflation.”
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The budget passed 32 to 8. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, said in a press release that the budget will help various areas across Delaware. He is chairman of the Joint Finance Committee.
“The FY 2024 operating budget is a fiscally responsible spending plan that will make critical investments in our state workforce, the education of our children and the long-term health of our neighbors, while also positioning Delaware to weather any economic turmoil coming our way in the next few years,” Paradee said.
The eight Republicans voting against the budget were Rep. Lyndon Yearick of Camden; Rep. Rich Collins of Millsboro; Rep. Jeff Hilovsky of Millsboro; Rep. Shannon Morris of Harrington/Felton; Rep. Charles Postles of Milford; Rep., Bryan Shupe of Milford; Rep. Jeff Spiegelman of Townsend/Hartly; and Rep. Jesse Vanderwende of Bridgeville/Greenwood.
They issued a joint statement after the vote.
“For context, the new budget is more than 50% larger than the operating budget enacted 10 years ago (FY 2014),” they said.
The budget does not include the additional $194.5 million in the supplemental budget, they pointed out.
“Net general fund revenues are expected to be down next year by 3.8% before rebounding somewhat in FY 2025 with modest growth of 2.5%,” the representatives said. “Considering all these factors, it is irresponsible to approve such a significant spending increase resulting in higher costs that must be accounted for at the start of the next budget process.”
From the general fund, the 2024 budget allocates:
- $1,985,539 for the Department of Education
- $8,063,000 for the Department of Elections
- $9,369,000 for the Department of Agriculture
- $12,517,600 for the Department of Labor
- $392,356,800 for the Department of Transportation
- $180,192,700 for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security
- $46,438,800 for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
- $395,640,100 for the Department of Correction
- $210,445,100 for the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families
- $1,496,077,800 for the Department of Health and Social Services
- $15,223,900 for the Department of Finance
- $35,089,600 for the Department of State
- $32,797,200 for the Department of Human Resources
- $7,600,000 for the Fire Prevention Commission
- $5,625,300 for the Delaware National Guard
- $336,600 for the Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens
- $276,531,900 for Higher Education
- $81,296,600 for legal
- $240,383,200 for other elective
- $60,084,900 for the Department of Technology and Information
- $21,730,100 for the legislature
- $114,924,000 for the judiciary
- $365,809,500 for the executive
From the special fund, the 2024 allocation includes:
- $5,505,500 for the Department of Education
- $8,105,200 for the Department of Agriculture
- $16,936,600 for the Department of Labor
- $5,000,000 for the Department of Transportation
- $26,895,000 for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security
- $106,745,000 for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
- $3,972,900 for the Department of Correction
- $6,937,800 for the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families
- $144,023,600 for the Department of Health and Social Services
- $138,203,900 for the Department of Finance
- $73,789,100 for the Department of State
- $7,604,200 for the Department of Human Resources
- $2,474,700 for the Fire Prevention Commission
- $13,186,100 for legal
- $114,255,100 for other elective
- $36,584,900 for the Department of Technology and Information
- $13,684,900 for the judiciary
- $108,142,600 for the executive
Also passing Thursday 33-7, was the supplement bill detailed in Carson’s House Bill 196.
It provides $194,560,278 for the Office of Management and Budget to fund one-time projects, and includes $69.1 million for Medicaid, $50.9 million for Other Post-Employment Benefits and $30 million for housing investments.
It also has line items for things such as marijuana control, the presidential elections in 2024, doula services and the Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
Both bills now make their way to the Senate for consideration.
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