By Verity Watson
There has been a flurry of activity in the state capitol over the last few months, including the beginning of legislative session and the Governor’s State of the State and budget proposal, and Joint Finance Committee budget hearings.
Governor John Carney’s budget proposal emphasizes long-term sustainable budget growth in the midst of a historic influx of federal dollars flowing to the state. A focus on one-time spending versus growing the base budget continues to be a defining theme of his administration. The proposed operating budget would grow the budget by 4.6 percent from the current year to a total of $4.99 billion. The proposed bond and capital infrastructure budget totals $1.18 billion. Some highlights include:
The Governor highlighted initiatives in his State of the State Address that the State Chamber has been actively engaged in. The long-awaited substitute version of the Healthy Delaware Families Act was unveiled in January and incorporated many of the changes asked for by the State Chamber. The new version—which has the full backing of the Governor—was debated and released from the Senate Health and Social Services committee and is expected to be voted on by the full Senate in March. Among other changes, the new bill breaks up the types of leave that will be required to be offered depending on the size of the business. The State Chamber, in partnership with Delaware SHRM and Delmarva SHRM, hosted the bill sponsor, Senator McBride, along with representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Department of Labor, and the
Department of Finance to discuss the logistics of the proposal, the impact it will have on your business, and remaining concerns. A recording of this discussion is available at www.dscc.com/webinars.
The legislature stood in recess in February while the Joint Finance Committee worked to craft the budget for the next fiscal year. When they return the week of March 8th, there will be a new face in the chamber of the House of Representatives. The resignation of Representative Gerald Brady triggered a special election for his Wilmington seat which, due to redistricting, will relocate to the Long Neck area in Sussex County later this year.
The General Assembly is expected to work expeditiously over the coming months to pass their collective and individual legislative priorities heading into the end of the fiscal year. Given that it is the second leg of the 151st General Assembly, all legislation must be worked to enactment or will need to be reintroduced in January.
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