Delaware revenue estimates dip

Delaware is looking at a decrease in revenue of about $20 million for the current fiscal year and for 2012, a state panel announced Thursday.

The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council increased its estimate for 2011 by $18 million, but dropped projections for the fiscal year starting July 1 by $38 million. That adds up to a $20 million loss.

That ends a streak of three consecutive revenue increases this year, but still puts Delaware in the enviable position of having about $340 million in total projected revenue increases since Gov. Jack Markell made his January budget proposal.

Typically budget writers in Legislative Hall on the Joint Finance Committee wait nervously for the final DEFAC projection. But this year the JFC introduced the proposed 2012 operating budget before the final DEFAC numbers were posted.

However, Secretary of Finance Tom Cook says the revenue decrease will not affect the proposed spending plan. He says when Gov. Jack Markell set forth a plan of how to spend the surplus, he left plenty of wiggle room.

“They’ve closed out the budget, but in a nutshell, what this means is that the Bond Bill will have $20 million less to work with,” Cook said.

The Bond Bill, or capital budget, pays for construction projects such as improvements to infrastructure and the building of schools. By law the operating budget and capital budget must pass the General Assembly by June 30th.

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