The Delaware Senate approved on June 25 the fiscal 2020 operating budget, sending the $4.45 billion spending plan on to Gov. John Carney for his signature.

“This is a budget all Delawareans can be proud of,” said Sen. Harris McDowell, D-Wilmington, who co-chairs the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee.

“HB 225 provides education funding to students who need it the most, adds reading interventionists and school counselors to schools throughout the state, expands access to college for hundreds of Delaware families, improves care for people with disabilities, gives raises to our hard-working state employees and puts aside money for the future,” said McDowell. “Putting together a budget of this size is no easy feat and I want to thank my colleagues on the Joint Finance Committee for working so hard to address some long-standing equity issues and advanced the ball on key priorities that will benefit some of our most vulnerable populations.”

House Bill 225 was introduced June 11, the earliest an operating budget has been filed in 20 years. The budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 represents a 4.24% increase from the fiscal 2019 spending plan. That’s on par with roughly half of U.S. states that plan to raise spending by more than 4% this year, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.

The Senate also passed House Bill 226, a supplemental spending bill that appropriates an additional $62 million for one-time expenditures.

The spending measures invest strongly in education initiatives aimed at improving outcomes for students from low-income families or who are learning English as a second language, along with efforts championed by the General Assembly to provide additional mental health and reading supports for K-5 education.

The budget bills also will fund modest raises for state workers; support implementation of the Department of Correction Independent Review recommendations; bolster caseworker staff in the Division of Family Services; maintain the Children’s Health and Insurance Program at current levels despite federal cuts; expand the SEED and Inspire scholarship programs; continue enhanced support for Wilmington schools; create new positions to process expungement applications; and provides low-income families with dental care, among other measures.

The Delaware House passed both measures unanimously the week prior.