Delaware Republicans oppose crime funding process

 Members of the JFC hear testimony from education leaders in this file photo. (WHYY/file)

Members of the JFC hear testimony from education leaders in this file photo. (WHYY/file)

GOP lawmakers aren’t happy with the way the Joint Finance Committee approved $2 million to fund crime fighting efforts in Wilmington and Dover.

On Wednesday, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) approved a plan to fund the fight against crime in Wilmington and Dover with money from a foreclosure settlement with Bank of America . Under the approved agreement, Wilmington would get $1.5 million for increased patrols from city, county and state police. Dover would receive nearly $600,000 for increased patrols and for new video equipment.

Delaware Republicans say that while both cities have crime problems that deserve attention, they believe the JFC overstepped its authority in appropriating those funds without an act of the full body of the General Assembly.

“There are two terrible precedents being set here,” said State Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle. “They are both worthy of debate and discussion. First, the Attorney General is claiming that he can hold and disburse funds from the settlement without the approval of the Legislature. Second, the JFC is claiming the authority to appropriate funds outside an Act of the General Assembly, as the Constitution requires.”

Lavelle, along with House Minority Leader Danny Short, have sent a letter to JFC co-chairs Rep. Melanie George Smith and Sen. Harris McDowell, both Democrats. The letter requests that legislation be filed to authorize the committee to disburse funds.

The Republicans plan to introduce a measure making it very clear what the JFC’s role should be in these types of situations.  “Setting a precedent that violates our constitution and does an end run around the legislative process is reckless,” Short said.

The General Assembly will reconvene in Dover next month.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal