Delaware lawmakers approve a $1.1 billion capital budget for the fiscal year starting Monday

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Delaware lawmakers on Thursday unanimously approved a $1.1 billion capital budget for construction, transportation, maintenance and economic development projects in the fiscal year that starts Monday.

The spending plan is about $300 million less than this year’s capital budget, but roughly $160 million more than what Democratic Gov. John Carney proposed in January.

The capital budget includes about $329 million for transportation projects, down from $354 million this year. Authorizations for non-transportation projects totals $787.4 million, down from slightly more than $1 billion this year.

The capital budget includes $200 million for public school construction and renovations, down slightly from $212 million this year.

Spending for the Clean Water Revolving Fund will drop by half, from $18 million this year to $9 million next year. Transit system appropriations also will decline sharply, from $17.7 million to $8.7 million.

Other highlights of the capital budget include:

— $26 million for a new state police troop facility in Georgetown, an increase of $4 million from this year

— $25 million toward new Family Court facilities in Kent and Sussex counties, down from this year’s $34.3 million appropriation

— $23 million for city of Wilmington community initiatives, an increase of $6 million

— $10 million for design work on a planned expansion of Legislative Hall in Dover, down from $23.6 million this year

— $10 million for a sports tourism investment fund, down from $12 million this year

Passage of the capital budget comes one week after lawmakers approved a $6.13 billion general fund operating budget for the new fiscal year, an increase of more than 9% from this year’s operating budget.

The operating budget for fiscal 2025 includes $2.1 billion for public education, up from $1.98 billion this year. Spending by the Department of Health and Social Services increases from just under $1.5 billion this year to $1.63 billion next year.

House and Senate lawmakers also approved a separate supplemental budget bill of more than $168.3 million, using one-time appropriations.

The operating budget is about $54 million higher than what Carney recommended in January. The supplemental spending bill is $76 million higher than what he proposed. Approval of the operating budget continued a pattern of Delaware lawmakers signing off on spending increases that have approached 10% annually, even as officials expect essentially flat revenue growth this year and next year.

The new operating budget also marks the third consecutive year of pay raises for state employees, with most rank-and-file employees receiving a 2% increase. For teachers, base salary has increased by 11% over the past two years while base pay for support staff, including custodians, secretaries, bus drivers and food service workers has increased between 6% and 18% during the same period, depending on their job classification.

Lawmakers will wrap up this year’s legislative session on Sunday, when they will vote on the third and final budget bill — a record-shattering $98.5 million grants package for community organizations, nonprofit groups and volunteer fire companies. Carney recommended a grants package of $66.5 million, a slight decline from this year’s record $72 million.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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