Faced with a pandemic, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and racial tensions, Delaware has been resilient and will remain so as the 2021 state spending year proceeds, said Gov. John Carney in his State of the State address Jan. 26.
“It's understandable then to feel concerned about the state of our state or that the state of the state is tenuous, weak or even on the decline. But I'm here today to offer a clear counter-message,” Carney said during a virtual presentation of his annual address.
“The state of our state is resilient. It's determined, it's strong and it's getting stronger.”
A year ago, his address was fueled by an anticipated $200 million surplus with optimism for the upcoming year. By April, that surplus had been wiped out as the COVID-19 pandemic ground the economy to a stop.
Delaware faced a deficit, but unlike other states, Carney said, Delaware was ready, thanks to budgeting policy that he calls budget smoothing. The policy sets aside cash reserves in good years and curbs spending, so when the economy tanks, there is some padding to cover costs.
“When the COVID-19 crisis hit, we balanced our budget without cutting critical services. Without raising taxes on Delaware families or businesses. Without borrowing money to pay our bills. And without laying of state employees or cutting their pay as so many other states were forced to do.”
He touted an unemployment rate of about 5 percent as a positive sign for Delaware workers.
This year, he said, he will again propose a budget that links state spending to the growth of the economy. One-time money will be invested in one-time infrastructure projects such as improving broadband across the state to eliminate internet deserts.
Carney also said he will move forward with a new goal for Delaware's renewable energy portfolio that would make 40 percent of Delaware's energy come from renewable sources by 2035.
Carney will release his fiscal year 2022 budget Jan. 28.