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End of Legislative Session but #DENonprofitsSpeakUp Continues

photo of Melissa Hopkins

June 30th marked the final day of the first half of the 151st General Assembly. While everyone continues to adapt to the new normal of life amidst COVID, the legislature impressively onboarded new members and forged ahead with a hybrid session.

As many of you know, DANA advocated to policymakers this year to address the disparity in the state’s contracts with nonprofit contracted service providers in relation to SB 15, the proposal to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2025 which passed the Senate and the House. We requested a 12% cost of service increase on all state contracts with nonprofits and a 25% increase in the Grant-in-aid bill.

HB 250, the General Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2022, and HB 251, a One-Time Supplemental Appropriation bill were passed and signed by the Governor on June 30th, highlights include:

  • Salary increases and benefit changes for state employees and state pension recipients with a price tag of approximately $89 million
  • Statewide technology investment of $10 million
  • Education Unit Growth Contingency to address student growth in public schools at a cost of $7.2 million
  • Redding Consortium for Educational Equity focused on Wilmington schools, $3 million embedded in the budget and an additional $7 million dollars in a one-time allocation.

A few noteworthy items for the Delaware nonprofit sector include:

  • An additional $17 million funding support for Development Disabilities Direct Support Professionals. Which increases rates from 68.2% to 85.2% of the benchmark of the 2019 rate rebase study
  • Child Care Contingency Fund increase of $5 million for Purchase of Care supplement
  • Volunteer Fire Service Loan Revolving Fund with a one-time investment of $5 million

While we are grateful there was action this year to address the discrepancy in pay to Direct Support Professionals providing services to individuals with disabilities, there was no movement to resolve similar issues for the larger nonprofit sector.

HB 265, the Grant-in-Aid bill, did not allocate as much as we’d hoped to Delaware nonprofits. The $63 million bill is an $8.8 million increase over last year’s bill. There were modest increases for nonprofits, though the levels ranged from 0-22%. No discussion of the funding rationale occurred during the Joint Finance Committee, so we are not able to explain the reasons for why some agencies received no increase while others a sizeable one. A sizeable $7.7 million in one-time allocations makes up most of the bill’s funding growth, of which 87% were for government initiatives and additional funding for first responders.

The Bond Bill, SB 200 provides a large investment in Delaware’s infrastructure which includes projects in which Delaware nonprofits may participate. Of interest is the $70 million Community Redevelopment Fund. No detail was available on the allocation of these funds. There was much discussion of investment into community-based projects, and the Bond Committee continues to finalize the project list for investment.

Please note that because this was the first half of a General Assembly, therefore legislation not passed at the close of session will carry forward into next year.

Thank you to those that made phone calls, sent emails and letters. While Delaware’s legislative session has ended for 2021, our work on the public policy needs in the sector does not stop. Our Community of Practice for Public Policy will continue to work to continue the #DENonprofitsSpeakUp campaign. It is necessary to ensure the FY 2023 budget reflects our priorities for contract reassessment. Our work is not done, and I am eager to continue this effort into 2022 and beyond.

Separately, DANA continues to advocate for allocation of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to Delaware nonprofits. We have sent a letter to each municipality reminding them of the opportunity to invest in the community good of Delaware nonprofits.

If you have questions or would like to discuss, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].