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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Legislative budget writers are continuing their review of budget requests for one of Delaware's biggest government agencies, the Department of Health and Social Services.

Wednesday's agenda includes a discussion of the Medicaid and medical assistance programs, which account for more than half of the entire department's budget.

One concern for lawmakers is how to cut down on fraud and waste in the Medicaid program, which costs state taxpayers about $700 million a year.

Wicomico County School logo

Wicomico County could soon have an elected school board.

Last night there was almost unanimous support from those attended a public hearing by the Board of Education.

Harry Basehart said that it should follow the model set by Caroline County where the board reflects the gender, ethnic and racial diversity of the local residents.  

Many complained that the Board is accountable to the governor not the county residents even though education takes up half of the Wicomico County budget.


Delaware lawmakers said no to Governor Jack Markell’s proposal to cut $12.6 million in property tax breaks for seniors.

The plan cuts in half the $500 state subsidy paid to seniors to help with their tax bills.

During a hearing by the Joint Finance Committee yesterday Senator Bruce Ennis told the governor’s budget officials that the reduction would be difficult to get through the General Assembly.

It’s part of Markell’s effort to balance his $3.9 billion budget which still goes up by 2.4 percent over current levels.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Members of the General Assembly's budget-writing committee are set to begin hearings and discussion on Gov. Jack Markell's proposed $3.9 billion operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Joint Finance Committee was to convene Tuesday to begin a monthlong series of hearings on individual agency budget requests.

The committee was to begin its work with an overview of state revenues and Markell's budget proposal, followed by individual agency hearings for the state budget office and the Delaware National Guard.

Don Rush

The battle of the budget in Annapolis is about to begin. Republican Governor Larry Hogan took some sharp swipes at his Democratic predecessor Martin O'Malley at Marc Steiner's Annapolis Summit as top Democratic Legislative leaders took aim at his budget proposal. Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush was there and filed this report.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A Maryland board has approved a plan to address about $410 million of a budget shortfall for the current fiscal year to better position the state to tackle a deficit in the next fiscal year.

The Board of Public Works voted 3-0 Wednesday for the plan.

It includes about $206 million in cuts. Another $108 million will come from spending transfers. There also are some savings from early retirement offerings and cutting vacant positions.

Don Rush

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Gov. Martin O'Malley is bringing a proposal to the Board of Public Works to address more than $400 million of a budget shortfall.

The outgoing Democratic governor is planning to bring about $211 million in spending reductions to the board Wednesday morning. The plan also includes about $199 million in fund transfers and revenues to help fill the gap.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Gov.-elect Larry Hogan has scheduled a briefing on Maryland's budget.

The briefing with adviser Robert Neall is set for Thursday in Annapolis.

Hogan says his incoming administration has been examining upcoming budget problems. He focused his campaign for governor on fiscal concerns.

Hogan announced Wednesday that Neall will be a special adviser on fiscal matters in his administration. Neall has been reviewing the budget as part of Hogan's transition team.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Larry Hogan says Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is rushing to implement policies under the wire before he leaves office next month.

The Republican governor-elect said Tuesday he believes it would be better for many of the decisions to be made by newly elected officials. He says that's because Maryland voters decided to go in a different direction on Election Day. O'Malley's a Democrat.

Hogan takes office Jan. 21. He spoke to reporters after meeting with the state's five Republican county executives.


At this week’s county council meeting Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver cut bond funding for the construction of a new West Salisbury Elementary School from the county’s capital improvement budget.

The newly elected Republican slashed the $1.25 million bond from the plan along with a $1.8 million bond for construction of the Westside Collector Road and another $1 million from improvements for the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Terry McAuliffe says Virginia's economy is in a "very perilous" situation with potential federal defense cuts looming.

McAuliffe says he's open to considering eliminating tax relief programs in order to balance the state budget.

He and state lawmakers met with heads of several large companies Monday to discuss the state's economic outlook.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones says the executives told lawmakers to be cautious in their budgeting for next year.

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Republican Governor-elect Larry Hogan has tapped Democrat Robert Neall to take the lead on his budget and taxation transition team.

Neall is a former state senator, delegate and Anne Arundel county executive who became a Democrat in 1999 after saying he felt uncomfortable in the GOP.

Hogan described Neall as the most respected fiscal mind in the state of Maryland adding that nobody knows the tax and fiscal budget issue better.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Government agency heads are asking Markell administration budget officials for additional funding in the next fiscal year.

Chief Justice Leo Strine Jr. told state budget office officials on Monday that the judicial branch would like about $3 million in additional funding in fiscal 2016 on top of the $95 million in general funds that the court system received this year. Strine says more than 80 percent additional funding would to to employee costs and technology infrastructure.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware budget officials are starting to lay the groundwork for developing a budget for next fiscal year.

Budget director Ann Visalli and her staff are beginning meetings this week to hear budget requests from various state agencies.

The meetings begin Wednesday with agency hearings that include the agriculture and economic development departments, and the Department of State.

Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia ended fiscal 2014 with a $438.5 million shortfall, a 1.6 percent drop from the year before.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe's administration announced the shortfall Thursday. His office did not say whether the shortfall would lead to budget cuts.

The governor signed a budget last month that had anticipated a smaller budget shortfall for fiscal 2014 of about $350 million.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The legislature's budget writing committee has unanimously approved a pay raise for most state employees despite a $41 million gap between projected revenue and Gov. Jack Markell's spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Joint Finance Committee members on Tuesday voted to approve a $500 pay increase for most state employees effective Jan. 1. Overall personnel costs, including increased pension contributions and adjustments to teacher pay, would increase by about $22 million over the current year.

Delaware State Republican website

Delaware Republican leaders in the state legislature are demanding spending cuts to meet $41 million in red ink under Governor Jack Markell’s $3.5 billion budget.

Senate Minority leader Gary Simpson said his party was calling for a 2 percent across the board reduction for all state agencies.

And Republicans threatened to withhold their votes on the state’s annual capital budget unless cuts are made.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - State lawmakers are getting down to the business of drafting a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Members of the Joint Finance Committee will convene Tuesday to being marking up Gov. Jack Markell's proposed $3.8 billion operating budget, which is about 3 percent higher than this year's spending plan.

But lawmakers have a few hurdles in approving Markell's proposal.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Lawmakers tasked with reconciling the House and Senate budgets have approved a first round of minor compromises. They are saving the toughest decisions for later this week.

Representatives of both chambers gave way Monday afternoon in budget areas where the other side objected to cuts.

For instance, the committee decided to keep intact grants offered by the Maryland Tourism Development Board and funds for the child care subsidy program.

They agreed to eliminate vacant public safety positions and to cut foster care payments.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland House of Delegates has approved the state's $39 billion budget for the next fiscal year.

The House voted 100-38 Thursday.

Delegates decided to stick with a plan already approved by the Senate to address a significant drop in revenue estimates earlier this month by using $200 million in money that had been planned to shore up the long-term health of the state pension system. The plan calls for restoring the full $300 million above the required annual payment in several years.

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The House gave preliminary approval Wednesday to sticking with a plan already approved by the Senate to avoid cuts to education, health and other programs. The plan calls for using $200 million that had been planned to strengthen the long-term financing of the state's pension system.

Supporters say the state will gradually restore the full $300 million paid annually beyond the required payment to fully fund the state's pension system by 2039. But opponents say using the money now will cost the state more in the long run.


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland House of Delegates is taking up the state's $39 billion budget.

The House on Wednesday will consider changes to budget measures that are working in tandem to balance the books for the next fiscal year.

The state Senate already has approved the measures.

The work done by the House on Wednesday will put delegates on track to pass their version of the budget legislation this week.

That will give lawmakers more than a week to work out any differences before the Maryland General Assembly adjourns April 7.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Terry McAuliffe is set to propose a 2 percent raise for state employees when lawmakers return to Richmond for a special session in which they will try to pass a roughly $96 billion two-year budget.

McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said Sunday that the raise would apply to virtually all full-time state employees and would go into effect in March 2015. Coy declined to say from where the roughly $200 million to cover the raises will come.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Legislative budget writers are continuing their hearings on Gov. Jack Markell's proposed $3.8 billion operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Joint Finance Committee reconvenes Monday to review proposed budgets for Delaware's courts, the Department of State, and the attorney general's office.

The panel will spend the rest of the week considering spending plans for Department of Health and Social Services agencies and programs.

The JFC will hold a separate hearing next month on the Department of Transportation's operating budget.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The legislature's budget-writing committee is set to begin its review of Gov. Jack Markell's proposed $3.8 billion operating budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

The Joint Finance Committee was to convene Tuesday for an overview of the budget proposal and the state's revenues. The panel will then spend the next four weeks on an agency-by-agency review of Markell's proposed budget.

Delaware National Guard Website

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The National Guard's director is telling Delaware National Guard leaders they must maintain a ready posture despite federal budget cuts over the next decade.

The Wilmington News Journal reports Gen. Frank Grass told state Guard leaders Saturday that a federal budget deal in December provides some relief from automatic spending cuts approved by Congress. But the National Guard still expects to see its share of spending cuts.

A debate is ongoing over how to achieve spending reductions in the military while still maintaining a strong defense.

Don Rush

It’s not too early to start looking at the budget options for Delaware lawmakers.

And, in an expectation of more continue tough financial times ahead legislators have scheduled some early meetings on how to deal with increased costs and an expected drop in revenue.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that state revenues are projected to be $55 million short of what was allocated for the fiscal year of 2014 that ends in June of next year.

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Good Samaritan

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Legislation encouraging people in Delaware to report alcohol and drug overdoses without fear of being prosecuted is about to become law.

The so-called Good Samaritan bill was to be signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jack Markell after winning unanimous approval in both the House and Senate.

Under the bill, a person reporting an overdose would be immune from prosecution for certain drug crimes even if he or she has been involved in drug-related activity.

Don Rush

The Salisbury City Council last night unanimously approved a $53 million budget that will raise property taxes for the first time in years.

The rate will go from $8.19 to $8.84 per $1000 of assessed property value.

The increase represents the revenue problem faced by Salisbury in the face of an 8 percent drop in the town’s property tax base due to the Great Recession.

There is a 2 percent pay raise for city employees and as well as money to maintain the pay increases for the police department.

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The Salisbury City Council is set to hold a final hearing tonight on the city’s $53 million budget that could include the town’s first property tax rate hike in years.

More than half of the nearly 11-thousand property owners would see an increase in their tax bills while the rest could see a slight decrease.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the rate will jump by 65 cents per $1-thousand of assessed property value just to keep the revenue from the property tax the same in the face of declining property values resulting from the Great Recession.