With Budget Markup Upon Us the Time to Act Is Now

Over the course of the last 3 months the Joint Finance Committee has been diligently walking through the Governor’s Recommended Budget for FY 2020, hearing presentations from each agency.  I know many of our members have taken the time out to address the JFC at these hearing regarding the work our state’s nonprofits are doing to support the state needs.  Our President and CEO, Sheila Bravo presented to the Joint Finance Committee regarding the investment in our state’s nonprofits. In addition to the Governor’s Recommended Operating Budget, JFC members will consider the Governor’s Recommended Budget Supplement Bill which outlines one-time expenditures suggested for 2020.

FY 20 Budget Markup:

The Joint Finance Committee will begin reviewing and making changes to reach a final FY 2020 Budget by the end of June.  Meetings will begin on May 20th and will continue through the end of the month.  A full schedule of the Joint Finance Committee can be found here.   

With Grant-in-Aid funds being returned to the sector in the FY 2019 budget, there has been less urgency around the need to advocate for funds.  Complacency is detrimental. We need to continue to share our key messages around investment in the nonprofit sector:

  • Nonprofit organizations are small businesses serving as a critical component in our state’s economy, collectively serving as the third largest employer in the state.
  • Local communities rely on nonprofits for educational services, workforce development, health and social services, to attract visitors and to support government programs for housing, mental and behavioral health.
  • Investment in equitable nonprofit partners will result in a practical state budget.  Without nonprofits, government would spend two to three times more on community services.
  • At a time when careful spending is crucial to balancing the budget, and the need for services is great, it is essential for the state to strengthen its partnership with nonprofit agencies.

On April 22, 2019, the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Committee (DEFAC) noted that our state’s revenue estimates leave $310.2 million in unencumbered cash for FY19.  With consideration to FY20, there is the sense that one-time spending initiatives may receive higher priority than ongoing funding commitments.  To ensure consideration of nonprofit requests:

  • Call your legislators (again and again and again) or attend a local constituent coffee and remind them an investment in nonprofits is an investment in economic development and urge them to retain and increase grant-in-aid funds from the FY19 budget to the FY20 budget.
  • Participate in one of DANA’s Sub-sector Advocacy Wednesdays scheduled through the month of June.
  • Attend Joint Finance Committee meetings at the end of May to hear changes to the budget as they occur.  

I’ll plan to tweet updates from JFC Budget Markup as they are happening, so please follow DANA on Twitter to gain insight or join the conversation.

Census 2020 Complete Count Commission:

Last year the Governor formed a CENSUS 2020 Complete Count Commission to lead strategies to encourage full participation in the CENSUS, and DANA was invited to participate.  Sheila Bravo and Lolita Lopez, of Westside Health Services, are leading the Subcommittee on Hard to Count Populations, given that nonprofits are on the front lines working with individuals who may have difficulty participating in the 2020 Census this is an opportunity for our state’s nonprofits to encourage a complete count.  

To support this stream of work, DANA recommends the Joint Finance Committee fund initiatives to support a complete count for CENSUS 2020. Due to a population undercount in 2010, it is estimated that Delaware lost over $100 million in federal funding this past decade. These federal funds are designed to support the very populations we wish to serve. We believe an investment of $1 million or more will fund the grass-roots work to encourage individuals in Delaware to participate in the CENSUS.  

Many states have formed similar commissions and are investing millions to ensure the counts are accurate. The Delaware Complete Count Commission is developing its plan and assessing the required resource needs, but we are advocating for inclusion it its entirety in the 2020 Budget Supplement Bill as this one-time investment has the potential to provide necessary and appropriate resources for our state’s population.

Federal Update:

While things are busy at the state level, we continue to monitor important developments on the national stage that will impact our nonprofits.

As of May 15th, nonprofits will be responsible for new taxes as a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Most notable is the Nonprofit Transportation Benefits Tax, requiring nonprofits to pay a 21% unrelated business income tax on expenses nonprofits incur as a result of offering their employees with transportation benefits, such as parking or passes to utilize transit services.  To read more on the impacts and additional taxes levied by this act of Congress please read this excellent article from our partners at the National Council of Nonprofits.

As noted in the DANA newsletter, the U.S. Department of Labor has proposed an update to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the current law dictating what American employees are eligible for overtime pay.  The U.S. Department of Labor is accepting comments from the public about the proposed rule electronically at www.regulations.gov, in the rulemaking docket RIN 1235-AA20. The deadline for commenting on the overtime rule is May 21, 2019.   Please send your feedback to Melissa Hopkins ([email protected]) by May 17th and we can respond with the collective feedback.