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Delaware Built-Up Savings Over The Past Few Years. COVID-19 Wiped Much Of That Out


This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

Delaware largely averted major pain in a $4.54 billion operating budget for 2021 that Democratic Gov. John Carney's administration called a "bridge" to 2022.

The spending plan is actually 2.1% larger than Delaware's 2020 budget, but not what the governor envisioned in his original $4.64 billion proposal in January. The revised budget was crafted to maintain current commitments; handle rising pension, health care and education costs; and pay for 2020 election costs.

Drops in personal income and corporate tax revenues, along with skyrocketing unemployment claims, left lawmakers with about $400 million less to work with than projected in January.

The state used half of a nearly $126 million budget stabilization fund created by Carney in 2018 to soften the blow. It also scrapped a proposed 2% pay increase for state employees.

But lawmakers did significantly trim the 2021 capital budget meant for schools, roads and other projects.

"In a year when we thought it could have been disastrous, we were able to get through it without position cuts, without tax increases, and while maintaining our commitments to the priorities of the people of our state," Carney said at the budget bill's signing.

Tom Byrne is the news director for Delaware Public Media .

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