A proposed Delaware operating budget of $3.58-billion is available for public review, ten days before the start of the new fiscal year.
Lawmakers introduced the spending plan Tuesday, the third consecutive year it has been available more than a week before a floor vote in the General Assembly. The budget hikes state spending by 2.2 percent over FY ’12.
Joint Finance Committee co-chair, state Representative Dennis P. Williams, D-Wilmington North, said the panel spent the past six months going “agency by agency, and in some cases line by line, to squeeze every dollar we could out of this budget.”
“We worked long hours to make sure that we have a responsible budget that maintains state services to protect our most vulnerable citizens,” Williams said. “I look forward to a final vote and passage of the budget.”
Medicaid costs incurred by the state went up $21.7 million, while teacher unit costs in public schools increased $8.7 million. The total increase in state spending amounts to $78.2 million.
Lawmakers began the push for more transparency surrounding the budget several years ago. Previously it was introduced one day or even just hours before the vote in the waning hours of the legislative session.
“I’m very pleased that we have continued the practice of having the budget introduced well before June 30th,” House Speaker Robert Gilligan, D-Sherwood Park, said.
The Bond Bill Committee continues work this week on the FY ’12 capital budget, which funds school construction projects, transportation initiatives, Port of Wilmington projects and various initiatives proposed by state lawmakers with projects in their districts.