From YourSITE.com

State
Minner Proposes 2005 Budget
By SUSSEX COUNTY ONLINE
Jan 30, 2004, 12:52

Gov. Ruth Ann Minner’s proposed budget package for fiscal year 2005 puts new money into improving schools, creating jobs, preserving the environment and fighting cancer with a 4 percent growth in spending.

The proposal released Thursday for the budget year that begins July 1 centers on an operating budget of $2.56 billion, 3.97 percent over the recommended current budget.

The package also includes: a $593 million “bond bill” for spending on roads, schools and other construction and one-time projects; plans for $50 million in federal fiscal relief; and measures to reduce the state’s debt and financially prepare for the impact of slot machines coming to Maryland and Pennsylvania.

“I want to note that if you subtract the mandated increases in health care, pension and debt service along with the pay raise proposal, the increase in this budget is three-quarters of a percent. I believe that says a lot about our efforts to cut costs and restrain growth,” Minner said.


“Addressing the issues that are important to Delawareans without allowing unrestricted growth takes leadership and fiscal discipline,” Lt. Governor John C. Carney Jr. said.  “This budget focuses on issues like education, job creation, the environment and health without abandoning the fiscal restraint that has seen Delaware through the difficult economy of recent years.”


Gov. Minner highlighted spending proposals in four areas.


Schools: Gov. Minner proposed:


  • $3.9 million to finish placing reading resource teachers in every public elementary school, one of her hallmark initiatives that went unfulfilled during the national economic recession.


  • $1 million to begin to address the expected costs of her call for full-day kindergarten to be offered at elementary schools by 2008.


  • $9 million to go directly to classrooms for textbooks, technology and other needed supplies.


  • $50,000 for the pilot year of her proposed Delaware Teacher Corps, which pays the college costs of those who commit to teach in Delaware public schools.


  • a $6.6 million increase to accommodate growth in the student population in schools next year.


  • $300,000 to eliminate an 800-person waiting list for adult education courses.


  • $119 million in one-time spending for school construction and renovations.


“These expenditures will keep Delaware schools on the path of continuous improvement and ensure that every Delaware student is prepared for college, for work and for life,” Gov. Minner said.


Jobs: As in her State of the State address, Gov. Minner highlighted plans for a “New Economy Initiative” designed to jumpstart Delaware’s economy as the national economic recovery begins. The plan includes $30.5 million in state funds that would be matched by $15.5 million in federal and private funds, combining resources to provide quality jobs for Delawareans. Details of the New Economy Initiative will be released in February.


Gov. Minner also said her spending proposals include funding to support the Wilmington Riverfront and the Port of Wilmington. That announcement came hours after Gov. Minner and Volkswagen of America signed a five-year lease for VW’s continued operations at the port.


Environment: Gov. Minner proposed $22 million for a Green Infrastructure program to purchase valuable undeveloped land in partnership with environmental and preservation organizations. The proposal builds on the Governor’s legacy of having preserved more than 4,300 acres of open space and protected more than 34,000 acres of farmland from development so far in her term.


“We have some possible purchases on the horizon and I believe they are critical to maintaining our quality of life in the future and preserving a Livable Delaware,” Gov. Minner said.


The spending package also includes $15 million for water supply and flood mitigation initiatives, namely expansion of Hoopes Reservoir in Wilmington and the purchase of land in Glenville to avoid potentially fatal floods and create a water retention area that will relieve flooding issues along the Red Clay Creek.


Fighting Cancer: The Governor renewed her commitment to reducing Delaware’s high cancer rates by doubling funding for cancer screening, treatment and prevention to $10 million a year. The funding includes her groundbreaking proposal to pay for cancer treatment for those without health insurance.


“No Delawarean should die from cancer because they make too much money for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance,” Gov. Minner said. “I sincerely hope that we can make Delaware a leader in fighting cancer in this way.”


Fiscal Responsibility: In addition to limiting growth in the state’s operating budget, Gov. Minner also showed her commitment to fiscal responsibility by planning to reduce debt and create a fund to prepare for the budget impact of neighboring states approving slot machines.


To reduce the state’s debt, Gov. Minner proposed using $28 million -- $20 million in cash along with $8 million in “bond premium” money paid to the state by brokerage firms as part of bids to sell the state’s bonds earlier this month. She also proposed dedicating all future bond premium revenue for debt reduction.


The Governor also proposed capping the revenue from abandoned property that is allowed to go to the state’s general fund. Abandoned property revenue is turned over to the state by corporations that can no longer find the owners of bank account funds, investments, gift cards and other property. Abandoned property revenue has grown tremendously in recent years due to increased audit and collection efforts, but is one of the state’s most unpredictable revenues.


Gov. Minner’s proposal would cap revenue from abandoned property going to the general fund at the current level. Any growth and additional money from abandoned property would go into a fund that would be tapped once Maryland and/or Pennsylvania approve slot machines in those states, a move that will mean a projected loss of more than $100 million a year to Delaware.


Other spending package highlights include:


  • $30 million to provide a raise to state workers, the first in two years. Structured to provide a larger percentage raise to state workers who make less, the plan would provide a raise of 3.5 to 4.5 percent for more than 70 percent of state employees.


  • Mandated costs increases totaling $74 million, such as an additional $25 million to cover the increased costs of providing health care to residents through Medicaid; an added $17 million to cover the increased costs of employee health care; an additional $11 million to cover increased costs of retiree pensions; and an extra $21 million to pay the debt incurred by bonds from past years. Combined, these mandated items represent the bulk of the increase in the FY05 budget.


  • At least $12 million to fund the “next generation” of the state’s 800-megahertz emergency radio system. It will be spent based on recommendations that will be made by a working group of radio users in May.


  • $6 million to be added to the state Housing Development Fund in order to boost access to affordable housing and low-income housing.


  • $2.56 million towards the construction of a veterans home for Delaware, adding to the $500,000 that the administration put in the current year budget for planning the home.


  • $10 million to renovate the Kent County Courthouse and the neighboring O’Brien Building.


  • $500,000 for community-based drug treatment programs, more than doubling the current funding and enabling the Department of Correction to treat an additional 325 people.


The proposed FY05 spending package, Gov. Minner said, “is targeted toward the key areas of schools, jobs, the environment and cancer, while continuing to manage state government responsibly and provide services the people of Delaware need.”


Details of the Governor’s operating budget, bond bill and other proposals can be found online at http://www.state.de.us/budget/budget/fy2005/budget2005.shtml

 

City: Dover Text of Press Release: Governor Ruth Ann Minner’s proposed budget package for Fiscal Year 2005 puts new money into improving schools, creating jobs, preserving the environment and fighting cancer while continuing to restrain growth in government.


The proposal released Thursday for the budget year that begins July 1 centers on an operating budget of $2.56 billion, just 3.97 percent over the recommended current budget. The package also includes: a $593 million “bond bill” for spending on roads, schools and other construction and one-time projects; plans for $50 million in federal fiscal relief; and measures to reduce the state’s debt and financially prepare for the impact of slot machines coming to Maryland and Pennsylvania.


“Only by both restraining growth and committing to new initiatives in key areas can we thrive in the new era of opportunity I spoke of in my State of the State address,” Gov. Minner said. “I want to note that if you subtract the mandated increases in health care, pension and debt service along with the pay raise proposal, the increase in this budget is three-quarters of a percent. I believe that says a lot about our efforts to cut costs and restrain growth.”


“Addressing the issues that are important to Delawareans without allowing unrestricted growth takes leadership and fiscal discipline,” Lt. Governor John C. Carney, Jr., said.  “This budget focuses on issues like education, job creation, the environment and health without abandoning the fiscal restraint that has seen Delaware through the difficult economy of recent years.”


Gov. Minner highlighted spending proposals in four areas.


Schools

Gov. Minner proposed:


  • $3.9 million to finish placing reading resource teachers in every public elementary school, one of her hallmark initiatives that went unfulfilled during the national economic recession.


  • $1 million to begin to address the expected costs of her call for full-day kindergarten to be offered at elementary schools by 2008.


  • $9 million to go directly to classrooms for textbooks, technology and other needed supplies.


  • $50,000 for the pilot year of her proposed Delaware Teacher Corps, which pays the college costs of those who commit to teach in Delaware public schools.


  • a $6.6 million increase to accommodate growth in the student population in schools next year.


  • $300,000 to eliminate an 800-person waiting list for adult education courses.


  • $119 million in one-time spending for school construction and renovations.


“These expenditures will keep Delaware schools on the path of continuous improvement and ensure that every Delaware student is prepared for college, for work and for life,” Gov. Minner said.


Jobs

As in her State of the State address, Gov. Minner highlighted plans for a “New Economy Initiative” designed to jumpstart Delaware’s economy as the national economic recovery begins. The plan includes $30.5 million in state funds that would be matched by $15.5 million in federal and private funds, combining resources to provide quality jobs for Delawareans. Details of the New Economy Initiative will be released in February.


Minner also said her spending proposals include funding to support the Wilmington Riverfront and the Port of Wilmington. That announcement came hours after Gov. Minner and Volkswagen of America signed a five-year lease for VW’s continued operations at the port.


Environment

Minner proposed $22 million for a Green Infrastructure program to purchase valuable undeveloped land in partnership with environmental and preservation organizations. The proposal builds on the Governor’s legacy of having preserved more than 4,300 acres of open space and protected more than 34,000 acres of farmland from development so far in her term.


“We have some possible purchases on the horizon and I believe they are critical to maintaining our quality of life in the future and preserving a Livable Delaware,” Minner said.


The spending package also includes $15 million for water supply and flood mitigation initiatives, namely expansion of Hoopes Reservoir in Wilmington and the purchase of land in Glenville to avoid potentially fatal floods and create a water retention area that will relieve flooding issues along the Red Clay Creek.


Fighting Cancer

Minner proposed doubling funding for cancer screening, treatment and prevention to $10 million a year. The funding includes her groundbreaking proposal to pay for cancer treatment for those without health insurance.


“No Delawarean should die from cancer because they make too much money for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance,” Minner said. “I sincerely hope that we can make Delaware a leader in fighting cancer in this way.”


Fiscal Responsibility

In addition to limiting growth in the state’s operating budget,  Minner also announced plans to reduce debt and create a fund to prepare for the budget impact of neighboring states approving slot machines.


To reduce the state’s debt,  Minner proposed using $28 million -- $20 million in cash along with $8 million in “bond premium” money paid to the state by brokerage firms as part of bids to sell the state’s bonds earlier this month. She also proposed dedicating all future bond premium revenue for debt reduction.


Minner also proposed capping the revenue from abandoned property that is allowed to go to the state’s general fund. Abandoned property revenue is turned over to the state by corporations that can no longer find the owners of bank account funds, investments, gift cards and other property. Abandoned property revenue has grown tremendously in recent years due to increased audit and collection efforts, but is one of the state’s most unpredictable revenues.


Minner’s proposal would cap revenue from abandoned property going to the general fund at the current level. Any growth and additional money from abandoned property would go into a fund that would be tapped once Maryland and/or Pennsylvania approve slot machines in those states, a move that will mean a projected loss of more than $100 million a year to Delaware.


Other spending package highlights include:


  • $30 million to provide a raise to state workers, the first in two years. Structured to provide a larger percentage raise to state workers who make less, the plan would provide a raise of 3.5 to 4.5 percent for more than 70 percent of state employees.


  • Mandated costs increases totaling $74 million, such as an additional $25 million to cover the increased costs of providing health care to residents through Medicaid; an added $17 million to cover the increased costs of employee health care; an additional $11 million to cover increased costs of retiree pensions; and an extra $21 million to pay the debt incurred by bonds from past years. Combined, these mandated items represent the bulk of the increase in the FY05 budget.


  • At least $12 million to fund the “next generation” of the state’s 800-megahertz emergency radio system. It will be spent based on recommendations that will be made by a working group of radio users in May.


  • $6 million to be added to the state Housing Development Fund in order to boost access to affordable housing and low-income housing.

  • $2.56 million towards the construction of a veterans home for Delaware, adding to the $500,000 that the administration put in the current year budget for planning the home.


  • $10 million to renovate the Kent County Courthouse and the neighboring O’Brien Building.


  • $500,000 for community-based drug treatment programs, more than doubling the current funding and enabling the Department of Correction to treat an additional 325 people.

  • Details of the Governor’s operating budget, bond bill and other proposals can be found online at http://www.state.de.us/budget/budget/fy2005/budget2005.shtml

 



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