After just 15 minutes of light discussion, the House of Representatives this afternoon passed the state’s annual budget bill for the fiscal year that begins July 1.


After just 15 minutes of light discussion, the House of Representatives this afternoon passed the state’s annual budget bill for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Thirty three of the chambers 41 members voted in favor of the $3.51 billion appropriations package; 8 Republicans voted no. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

The vote came a full three legislative days before the June 30 close of the General Assembly session, earlier than any time in recent memory.

In recent years, the budget approval process has extended into the wee hours of July 1, with legislative leaders tweaking and massaging the spending plan until it meets with wide enough approval.

Several lawmakers praised the Joint Finance Committee for drafting the bill and releasing it for review as early as it did — the legislation was filed on June 14.

“There are things in this budget that many people are happy with and others are not. There are many people who would like to see things different, higher or lower,” said JFC member Rep. Joe Miro (R-Pike Creek Valley). “As far as I’m concerned, it’s the earliest budget that we’ve had for the residents of Delaware to look, study and analyze.”

House Minority Leader Rep. Greg Lavelle (R-Sharpley) also praised the bill’s timeliness, but declared his opposition to the spending plan and criticized its 6.15 percent growth over the current year.

The administration, Lavelle said, chose to spend a $365 million surplus when the economic climate is still uncertain.

“Given some of the other issues surrounding this budget and the Bond Bill, we really have true budget growth in excess of 8 percent,” he said. “It was my hope that if we couldn’t send money back to the taxpayers, that we not spend all the money.”