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Delaware Senate Democrats

Senate passes FY 2024 Operating Budget, boosting support for teachers, students and healthy communities

June 27, 2023

DOVER – The Senate on Tuesday upheld its commitment to Delaware working families by passing a $5.6 billion operating budget for Fiscal Year 2024 that will make significant investments in the health and welfare of our communities, strengthen our public schools and support our first responders.

The budget, along with a $194.5 million supplemental spending plan consisting of one-time expenditures and contingency funds, was passed by the House on Thursday and now heads to Governor John Carney for his signature.

“The members of the Joint Finance Committee did incredible work this year in striking a fiscally responsible balance between funding new programs and initiatives that will improve the lives of our neighbors, and maintaining the healthy reserves needed to help the State of Delaware weather the challenges we may face in the years ahead,” JFC Co-Chair Sen. Trey Paradee said. “I am confident the spending plans we passed today will put our state on solid footing and advance our efforts to build a healthy and prosperous future for all Delawareans.”

The operating budget, House Bill 195, is the result of months of public hearings and meetings to review the recommended spending proposals Governor Carney unveiled in January and solicit input from state officials, lawmakers and the public about how to best invest state revenue. The FY 2024 budget passed by the General Assembly represents a 9.9% increase from the budget for the current fiscal year.

“The most important job we have as legislators is passing a smart, responsible budget that funds the state services that so many Delawareans rely on every day. Whether it’s our seniors, students, retirees, people in need or just someone visiting a state park, state government touches everyone’s lives almost every day,” JFC Co-Chair Rep. William Carson said. “I’m proud of the work we put in and the budget we produced. I hope that our investments make a real difference in people’s lives. I’m also proud of how legislators from both parties worked together to assemble this budget.”

HB 195 will provide full-time state workers with raises ranging from 3% to 9%, depending on their pay grade, with the lowest grades receiving the highest percentage raises. Collective bargaining units would receive previously negotiated pay increases. Education employees will receive a 3% raise and applicable step increases, while teachers will receive a total pay increase of 9%. The budget also establishes a $15 minimum wage for full-time merit state employees.

The spending bills also allocate an additional $30 million to increase mental health supports in elementary and middle schools, a $21 million investment in early childhood education programs, $2.3 million for the creation of a comprehensive residential lead paint remediation program and $1.3 million to provide free legal representation to struggling families facing eviction.

Other notable highlights of the FY 2024 operating budget include:

  • An additional $160 million to cover inflation and volume increases in statewide Medicaid service needs;
  • Nearly $49 million to cover the state’s share of state employee and state retiree health insurance premiums;
  • $29 million to cover projected growth in the pre-K to Grade 12 student population;
  • $20 million combined for the Redding Consortium for Educational Equity and Wilmington Learning Collaborative to provide targeted education and support services;
  • $5 million for long-term care skilled nursing facilities, funding that will leverage another $7.5 million in federal funding;
  • $2.7 million to increase the minimum hourly rate for school bus drivers;
  • $2.2 million to create the Office of the Marijuana Commissioner and other startup needs for the regulation of the legal marijuana industry;
  • $1.5 million to expand group violence intervention services in Kent County.

House Bill 196, the one-time supplemental budget, also includes funding for various initiatives and statewide needs, including:

  • $69 million in contingency funds for Medicaid;
  • $51 million to address outstanding long-term liability costs associated with retiree health benefits;
  • $30 million for statewide housing investments to address Delaware’s housing crisis;
  • $13 million to fund new technology purchases across state agencies;
  • $3.8 million for the filter first initiative to address lead remediation in public schools;
  • $2.7 million for the 2024 Presidential Primary election, including pay increases for poll workers;
  • $1.9 million to implement the Marijuana Control Act.