Delaware’s lawmakers fail to pass budget

72-hour spending measure approved, discussions resume 1 p.m., Sunday
July 1, 2017

Story Location:
411 Legislative Ave
Dover  Delaware
United States

Following a night of negotiations, Delaware’s lawmakers have failed to pass a budget on the final day of the session.

The first year of the 148th General Assembly began in January. The final scheduled day of the session was June 30, but failing to pass the mandated budget means lawmakers will be working into July.

Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth, said he doesn’t know where lawmakers go from here.

“I’m dissapointed, frustrated, annoyed. This is not where I thought we’d be when we started this session in January,” he said. “This is uncharted territory. I’m not sure what we’re going to do. I’m not sure what the answer is at this point.”

Rep. Steve Smyk, R-Milton/Lewes, had a similar comment.

“It’s anyone’s guess,” he said in an early morning text Saturday, July 1.

Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, said, “Delaware is still open for business and while I am disappointed that a budget bill never made it to the Senate from the House of Representatives, I am still hopeful this process will conclude in a reasonable manner. I will continue working with any member from either party in either chamber, to reach that end on behalf of Delaware taxpayers.”

Lawmakers early Saturday approved, and Gov. John Carney signed, a short-term appropriation measure that will fund state government at Fiscal Year 2017 levels for 72 hours.

In a statement early Saturday morning, Carney said he was deeply disappointed with the General Assembly.

“The people of Delaware expect us to responsibly do their business, and that includes working together to enact a responsible financial plan for the state,” he wrote.

Carney said for months he’s been saying a balanced, long-term plan that relies on spending reductions and new revenue was needed to solve the state’s financial challenges in a sustainable way.

“The fact is we met Republican leaders more than halfway,” he said. “We have pledged to support real spending reductions, and fiscal reforms that would place controls on future spending. Unfortunately, Republicans have been unwilling to compromise on their ideological demands, and have not agreed to support a sustainable plan to raise new revenue. But our work will continue, and it’s time for members of the General Assembly to get serious about passing a long-term budget.”

The General Assembly is scheduled to resume its work at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 2.

Carney said he intends to call the General Assembly into session each day until a Fiscal Year 2018 budget is enacted into law.