JL Haynes, Public Policy & Advocacy Manager
In the last two weeks, Governor Carney gave his State of the State address and announced the FY 2024 Recommended Budget, in which he identified the areas of strength in the State as well as areas of policy focus and investment for the coming fiscal year.
The Governor was especially proud of the state of the Delaware economy and the work being done to create jobs and economic growth. He focused his remarks on supporting new industries through capital improvements that lead to the creation of new jobs both in their construction and long-term impact. Other priority areas included affordable housing and environmental protection. The Governor’s Recommended Budget includes a “historic investment in affordable housing” and additional state investment in clean water, air, and land preservation. However, the centerpiece of his address was the highly anticipated focus on education and state employees.
Governor Carney started his Budget announcement by referencing President Biden famous quote, “show me your budget and I will show you what you value.” As the Governor spoke to investment in key initiatives, such as workforce development, education, affordable housing, and the environment, notably absent were investment in partnership with the nonprofit sector.
The FY 2024 proposed budget came out to over $5 billion dollars and includes the following:
- 9% raise for classroom teachers and raises between 3% and 6% for all other education related jobs and merit state employees.
- $101.5 million for affordable housing initiatives
- $10 million increase in purchase of care contracts.
- A total of $1 billion in the Delaware state savings accounts:
- Full funding to the Rainy-Day Fund, an obligated 2% required by the state constitution
- An additional $18.9 million to the Budget Stabilization Fund
At the end of his state address the governor proclaimed the State of Delaware is strong and will only get stronger in the years ahead. However, for many of us in the nonprofit sector the future is not as promising as the governor proclaims. While boasting about responsible management of taxpayer dollars and the financial security of the state, the nonprofit sector has been running on fumes. Many organizations are in precarious and unsustainable condition due to the continual lack of investment by the Governor and his administration. Nonprofits have been warning that the state needs to do a statewide reassessment of contracted rates for nonprofit service providers because currently our nonprofit sector has been providing essential services to the citizens of this state while being paid far below market rate to provide the service. Nonprofits are at a breaking point and will no longer be able to provide state services at current rates.
The Governor’s Recommended Budget noted a $10 million dollar decrease in Grant-In-Aid levels from FY 2023. This reduction is compounded by the knowledge that over the last few years, less and less of Grant-In-Aid dollars are directed to nonprofits.
The nonprofit sector in Delaware is resilient and has continued to meet service demands with generous contributions from philanthropy and individual donors. It is evident that the proposed FY2024 budget does not reflect any value for Delaware nonprofits. The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) now takes the Governor’s Recommended Budget to review and adjust. The sector must now advocate to the JFC to ensure adequate funding for contracted services and dedicated Grant-in-Aid to address the service needs of Delawareans. Participation is easy and the JFC schedule may be found here. The public is given the opportunity to give public comments and advocate on the record. The nonprofit sector needs to take this opportunity to advocate for our needs and those of our clients.