Delaware budget approved ahead of deadline

Delaware’s $3.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2012 is just a signature away from becoming law, well ahead of tonight’s midnight deadline.

The budget, which is more than six percent bigger than the 2011 budget, was approved by the state Senate on Wednesday in a 17 to 4 vote.  Democrat Michael Katz (Centerville) along with Republicans Dave Lawson (Marydel), Joe Booth (Georgetown) and Colin Bonini (Dover South) voted against the spending plan.  It was approved in the House on a 33 to 8 vote last week.

Governor Markell (D) says he credits members of the General Assembly for getting the budget approved more than 24 hours ahead of time.  In some previous years, the budget debate pressed passed the midnight deadline, with lawmakers forced into a special session overnight to get the job done.  “I think the fact that they were able to get it done early, they were able to get it out early, and with the openess and the transparency, everybody could take a hard look at the budget before they take a vote,” says Markell.

The biggest success for this year’s General Assembly, according to Markell?  “We’ve kept everybody focused on jobs and the economy.”  Markell says he’s also pleased about the way the state’s elected officials were able to get the job done this year.  “We could have taken the path that we’ve seen in others states where people have been demonizing each other, belittling each other, or we could do it respectfully, and we’ve done that.”

Markell says he was disappointed that the cost savings he proposed in Medicaid were not approved this year.  “We’re going to have to be back because what we’re spending on Medicaid is just not sustainable,” Markell said.  The Governor had wanted to reduce the number of emergency room visits that Medicaid participants could make for non-emergencies, but the Senate did not agree.

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