CRI News

DE 'Off' Budget Funding Belongs 'In' Budget
These "off" budget bills hide spending growth and are bad policy.

By Charlie Copeland, Director

Center for Analysis of Delaware's Economy & Government Spending

July 25, 2023

The Delaware General Assembly passed a $5.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2024. For Delaware's approximately 380,000 households, that is the equivalent of $14,736 per household. That is A LOT of money.
Randall Chase, a widely known veteran reporter in Dover, writes this is "an increase of roughly 10% over this year's operating budget." Note that earlier this year, the State's Finance Secretary wrote in the State Chamber magazine that the Governor was proposing a 7.4% increase -- meaning that the actual budget is 33% larger than that proposed by the Governor.
For six consecutive years, the General Assembly have passed and Governor Carney has signed a supplemental "off-budget" spending bill.
House Bill 196,  the most recent "off-budget" spending bill, includes an additional ~$195 million in spending. The supplemental spending bill increases government spending by another 3.3%. The "regular" budget bill plus the "off-budget" supplemental bill means that Governor Carney and legislators are increasing state spending by 13.2% well over twice the rate of inflation (see below).
Of course, legislators will claim that the supplemental spending was "one-time" money. But, there are three concerns with this claim:
1) "One-time" money is normally put into the "regular" budget, so there is no need to hide additional spending in a supplemental bill ("off-budget" supplemental bills make the "regular" budget growth look smaller as shown above).
2) Not everything in the "off-budget" spending bill is only "one-time." For example, there is $69 million in Medicaid funding in the most recent supplemental bill - which is not "one-time." The Medicaid spending becomes permanent as Federal funds are no longer available for the State's voluntary expansion of Medicaid coverage.
3) This is the SIXTH time that the Governor and legislators have passed "one-time" supplemental bills. "Off-budget" bills have become the Carney standard for hiding spending increases. Six times is NOT one time.
Total additional spending during the Carney Administration that was off budget was $915.3 million (see below). 

(SOURCE: Senate Bill 236, 149th General Assembly (2017 - 2018); House Bill 226, 150th General Assembly

(2019 - 2020); Senate Bill 226, 150th General Assembly; House Bill 251, 151st General Assembly (2021 - 2022);

 Senate Bill 251, 151st General Assembly (2021 - 2022); House Bill 196, 152nd General Assembly (Present).)


To be clear, the Governor and General Assembly can pass as many supplemental spending bills as they want. But it is deceitful to claim fiscal responsibility while increasing spending at over twice the rate of inflation.


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