The General Assembly is currently on budget hearing break until March 5. The Joint Finance Committee and Joint Committee on Capital Improvements are conducting hearings and beginning the work which will culminate in the final version of the budget package which will come before the entire General Assembly toward the end of June.
With a structural budget surplus in excess of the $140 million, which could improve markedly over the next several months, the process of writing the budget should be smoother than in past years. With the exception of last year, legislators had to grapple with lean finances and a slow recovery for much of the decade following the Financial Crisis of 2008-2009 and the Great Recession which followed. Last year’s more than $400 million structural surplus was a welcome change. Revenue projections from the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council in coming months will tell if this year will be like the last.
Senate Bill 8 would make wages and salaries a mandatory element of collective bargaining negotiations involving state employees. The Chamber opposed the original collective bargaining bill, which did not include wages and salaries, in 2007.
Supporters of the legislation argue that the Joint Finance Committee would be able to dispense with the wage and salary agreements which the numerous bargaining units representing state employees negotiate. However, it is doubtful that the committee would elect to dismiss agreements reached by union employees and management. We consider this a recipe to accelerate already problematic personnel costs for state government.
The Chamber’s lobbyist, testified against Senate Bill 8 before the Senate Labor Committee on January 23. The legislation is out of committee and awaiting action in the Senate.