Does anyone else get the excited flutter and the existential dread that comes in the time period following the end of the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) completing Budget Markup and the return of the entire General Assembly for the final leg of Legislative Session. No? Just me? Well, this year has left us all with some work to do. While the Joint Finance Committee was scheduled to continue budget markup the first week in June, the committee closed out budget writing in a whirlwind two-day session.
Highlights of the JFC allocations include the following:
- 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.
$221 million of one-time initiatives were passed by the JFC. For a full list of the one-time items you can go here.
A few noteworthy items in the general operating budget for the Delaware nonprofit sector:
- 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 thrilled with the investment for Developmental Disabilities Direct Support Professionals, what was not addressed in the budget are contract reassessments for the state contracted nonprofits service providers in other state agencies. One thing noted by legislators in the minimum wage debate is that there was intent for the JFC to address the needs of the nonprofit sector given the increase in operational costs expected as a result of a rising minimum wage and the state paying contracted providers below the cost of service.
While the Budget is well on its way, it will not be finalized before the Delaware Economic Financial Advisory Committee meets in June to provide the final revenue projections for the FY 2022 budget. In addition, the Grant-in-Aid bill has yet to be tackled. To resolve these outstanding issues, we are asking members of the nonprofit community to sign on to a letter with DANA requesting a cost-of-service increase for contracted providers of 12% and an increase of 25% to all nonprofit recipients of Grant-in-Aid. You can review of copy of the draft letter here. If you’d like to sign on with your organization’s logo please submit your signatory information here. The deadline for signatories is Thursday, June 10th, at noon.
While signing on to a letter is a great start, please also call and email your legislators and remind them of the contracted work your organizations may be engaged in to support the state in their efforts, and how critical Grant-in-Aid support is to your organizations’ existing efforts and post-COVID recovery. It is imperative that members of the Delaware State General Assembly understand nonprofits’ critical role in our state’s economy and how important the work we do is to their constituents. If you are unsure who represents you or your organization, please go to the state legislature’s website and type your address into the “Who is My Legislator?” box.
As we consider our collective path forward, bear in mind that we all need to be in this together. Uniting is the only way this can work. Navigating this terrain and fighting for what we need is certainly not for the faint of heart, but neither is advocacy or nonprofit life. If you have questions, or concerns, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]