FY 2016 budget requests begin in Delaware

(file/NewsWorks)

(file/NewsWorks)

State departments in Delaware are starting to make their initial requests for the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

Delaware Department of Natural Resources Secretary David Small went before the Office of Management and Budget in Dover on Monday to lay out his department’s $81.2 million budget proposal.

DNREC’s proposed general fund budget is $37.8 million, 1.8 percent higher than FY2015. Small said some of the increase reflects the support his department needs for the state’s new aquaculture program.

“[We want] to make sure we’ve got the scientific expertise, and, if we need it, the enforcement expertise to make sure the program gets off to a good start and we can maintain it,” Small explained.

Part of the increased operating budget is also allocated to trail maintenance and oversight for Delaware’s trail systems.

The $43.4 Capital Budget is where some of the big projects are funded including DNREC’s $6.4 million plan to improve state park and wildlife area infrastructure and $8 million allocated for shoreline and waterway management.

“Those are very important projects to the state for resiliency as well as for recreation in the state,” Small said.

Department of Corrections

The Delaware Department of Corrections also made their FY 2016 budget pitch, requesting 3.6 percent more that its current $277 million operating budget.

Many of the increases are linked to the increased cost to care for offenders.

“We are mindful that with limited resources available to fund the critical functions of State government we all must do more with less and must be innovative in reducing expenditures wherever possible,” DOC Commissioner Robert Coupe said. “One way we reduce our burden on taxpayers is by employing offenders to complete tasks throughout our facilities, at an estimated savings of $16 million this past year alone. However, even as we employ belt-tightening measures, we are faced with added expenses in maintaining the necessary level of care to offenders and in meeting the training and security needs of our staff.”

Coupe outlined $5.9 million for additional health care costs and $321,000 for increased food costs.

The DOC is also shifting even more focus to reducing recidivism by providing more educational and vocational opportunities to qualifying inmates.

The DOC is asking for $100,000 in the budget for career training services to help inmates re-enter the community.

Coupe said about 2,400 inmates are enrolled in academic or vocational training such as culinary arts, automotive and masonry.

Coupe said they’d like to train more inmates to work in all aspects of the culinary industry from food prep to eventually waiting tables.

Earlier this year, the state opened a brand new, 32,000 square foot kitchen at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington.

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