Wow – it was an incredible week at the end of the Delaware Legislative session.
A lot happened from Thursday to Sunday. Nonprofits across the state were present in force on Thursday and Friday. Thank you to all of our members and their staff, board and clients who showed up to share the importance in giving to nonprofits in Delaware. A special thank you to the United Way who helped DANA with outreach to nonprofits. AARP also deserves a great big THANK YOU for urging their members to come to Leg Hall on Friday to speak up for the need to fund nonprofits. DANA, along with several nonprofit leaders also stayed through the continuing legislated session – their presence daily sent an important message that funding community services was critical.
By now you have heard that Grant-in-Aid was reinstated at 80% of last year’s funding levels. The 20% reductions were taken across the board, which is not ideal. (See bill details) On the state department side, funding cuts for some services was reduced to 10% from the previous 20% levels. The department of Ed realized a $26 million cost reduction. We are not sure yet, how those reductions will impact nonprofit partners.
The state charitable gift deduction still remains in the tax code. A revised bill was introduced with a 50% cap on deductions, but was not passed. A big thank you to our philanthropy partners who helped advocate to keeping the gift deduction: Association of Fundraising Professionals, Delaware Community Foundation, the Delaware Grantmakers Association and the United Way. We also want to thank the National Council of Nonprofits, who provided support to DANA on the strategies used in other states. And a very big thank you to Charlie Vincent, who took the time to research those states and write two white papers on the implications of reducing the gift deduction.
So what happens next? DANA will analyze the budget and seek input from its members on the implications of this final budget to community services. That information will help us shape the story and advocacy strategy as we prepare for the 2018 legislative session. Our understanding at this time, is that the revenue solutions passed will not solve the budget deficit challenges in the future. Government funds approximately 30% of nonprofit services, for some agencies it is higher due to the types of services they provide. We need to change the budget gap closure strategy from cutting community services to investing in them. Our state’s economic vitality is intertwined with its quality of life. And the state needs nonprofits, in partnership with business and government, to contribute to both economic growth and quality of life enhancement. Without the right level of resources, we cannot do our part of the job.
Finally, a little update from the national scene. DANA, along with nonprofits across Delaware and the country have spoken up to retain the Johnson Amendment, which prevents partisanship in nonprofits and housed of worship. The US House Financial Services Subcommittee approved a bill that would make it difficult for enforcement of the Johnson Amendment.