Thursday, July 1, 2010

Snapshot of the Session

The 145th Delaware General Assembly has adjourned. The budget, grant-in-aid, and bond bills all passed without amendment or surprises last night. Here’s a quick list of highlights from the educator perspective:
Restoration of 5 furlough days
Bailout of Health Fund Deficit
Short Term Disability elimination period lowers from 60 days to 30 days
$21 million of $24 million cut (Gov’s budget) to public school transportation restored
Step increases for eligible e
NBC & Clusters continue to be paid for those who have them…moratorium on new continues another year
Restoration of overtime pay to hours paid vs hours worked
90 new teaching units funded
$102 million in school construction
School Resource Officer program saved
State’s obligation to new full-day Kindergarten programs (Christina) honored

Thwarted effort to tier health and pension benefits
Killed bill to eliminate Double State Share for new hires
Killed bill to require parental permission for all human sexuality, violence, alcohol and drug content in instruction

In the coming days as you hear our friends in the Delaware media sound off about the big spending state legislature, keep several things in mind. First, the state is a service industry so most of their expense and spending will be on people, the public servants including educators who deliver those services and of course the citizens who receive those services. Every time a fiscal hawk talks about massive cuts to state spending they are talking about taking something away from you and your neighbors. Second, there has not been much actual growth in the state budget. The figure of 6% growth includes replacing the expired stimulus money in the budget. That accounts for 3% of the spending increase by itself. Moreover, states face a double dilemma in times of economic recession; at the same time revenues fall, demand for services goes up as bad economic times force people onto unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and other public services. Third, realize that states do society's tough and expensive jobs: Education, health care, and corrections are three of the most expensive services offered by state government and all have inflationary costs every year.

This blog will go into more details of the session later, after this blogger catches up on sleep.

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