Ideas abound for extra Del. revenue (Scott Goss)
In January, a $250M increase in revenue was forecast for FY2019. Now the forecast increase is $350M, and many ideas are being floated for spending it. Restoring budget cuts that were made last year, rolling back the transfer tax increase (for those changing houses, that’s an 8% tax, pretty steep), much-needed tax relief (on the order of $20M per year) for casinos, more funding for prisons & correctional officers, and new welfare programs.
Perhaps all of these ideas could be funded for FY 2019 but some of the loot might have to be clawed back in the next lean year. Governor John Carney has repeatedly cautioned about going overboard, or, in his words, “appropriating into a bubble.” Before the 12-member Joint Finance Committee starts making decisions, legislators are waiting for the updated DEFAC forecast; it will be released on May 21. [5/21/18 Update: The new revenue estimate was up $82M, so the legislature is now looking at a $430M “budget windfall.”]
Some legislators, notably House Minority Leader Daniel Short (R-Seaford), think they know what the state should do with the extra money. Half would be spent (ideally for “one-time” outlays); half would be “socked away” to help fund the “budget smoothing” proposal that is in the works. A task force assigned with finalizing the details of the “budget smoothing” plan is expected to release its findings “soon,” and there has been at least one public workshop about the plan (on April 30) that tried to build support for it without providing meaningful details (such as the text of the amendment to the DE constitution that would be proposed).