From the Desk of Executive Director Bryon Short
From the Desk of Executive Director Bryon Short - July 8, 2022
Although there had been talk of the General Assembly splitting their last day of the 151st Session between in-person and virtual, both the Senate and House stayed in Legislative Hall wrapping things up a little after midnight. As the gavel fell, the General Assembly brought to conclusion a session that produced numerous bills impacting the business community in general with several of those bills specifically targeting the construction industry.
Delaware’s Fiscal Year 2023 Operating Budget, coming in at $5.1 billion, is the state’s largest in history. Although it is a record budget for our state, the Governor and General Assembly has continued to put money aside for the state’s rainy-day fund, budget stabilization fund, and several economic develop funds established over the past few sessions. The Operating Budget also includes $55 million to increase state employee wages in an attempt to be more competitive in the job market. Several state agencies have significant job vacancies that are impacting the turnaround time for construction projects as well as other state functions. The state vacancy challenge was recently a topic at DCA Government Relations Committee.
On the heels of the historically high Operating Budget, the General Assembly’s Joint Capital Improvement Committee eclipsed recent record setting Capital Improvement Budgets with a new record budget of $1.458 billion. HB 475, leverages $116.6 million of local school funding, $333 million of federal highway funding and $25 million of other funding for a FY 2023 public works program of $1.933 billion. Additionally, the Capital Budget provides $290.6 million for schools, $21 million for higher education, and $75 million for DNREC. Below are some project funding that will be of interest to our membership:
$80 million Kent and Sussex Courthouses
$38.5 million Troop 6
$15 million Historic Customs House
$20 million suburban street paving
$10 million Transportation Infrastructure Fund
$15 million Wilmington Community initiatives
$90 million Community Redevelopment Fund
$69 million market pressure fund
$20 million Strategic Fund
There was a great deal of talk during the Capital Improvement Committee hearings regarding the challenges to our budget given supply chain issues and inflation. Each of the state’s three budgets, Operating, Capital, and Grant-in-Aid, passed both chambers with bipartisan support. DCA had significant interaction with Governor Carney, House and Senate leadership, key committee chairs and legislators sponsoring bills impacting our industry. It was a busy session, I’m glad it’s over but our work in the regulatory process is just beginning for bills signed into law this session. And as always, we will be using the fall to meet with public policy makers regarding the 152nd General Assembly.