The Delaware Senate, in an unusually early move, has approved a $4.27 billion budget bill for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
Lawmakers said after Wednesday’s vote that the introduction of the general fund budget bill and passage by Senate with 10 days remaining in the legislative session is the earliest in recent memory. State lawmakers have made it an annual tradition to debate the budget and make last-minute changes well past the June 30 midnight deadline.
The Senate’s vote was 19-1, with only Dover Republican Colin Bonini dissenting. The House must still vote vote on the legislation before it it sent to Gov. John Carney for his signature.
Before it adjourns June 30, the General Assembly must also pass the bond bill that pays for capital projects, the grant-in-aid bill that provides supplemental funding to dozens of nonprofit organizations, and a supplement to the budget that includes one-time spending on retirees and employee bonuses.
The fiscal 2019 general fund budget represents about a 4 percent increase from this year’s spending plan. Legislators have about $47 million more to work with than previously projected.
The budget includes $1,000 salary increases for state employees, and a 2 percent raise for teachers.
The budget also sets aside funds to increase correctional officers’ starting pay to $43,000 and create a career ladder, and for the Department of Correction to implement recommendations from an independent review that took place after the James T. Vaughn prison uprising.
Public education funding would increase by more than $63 million to fund early learning centers, opportunity grants for schools with low income students or those learning English, transportation and other Carney administration initiatives.