Delaware state budget tops $1.5 billion

Lawmakers OK state worker pay raises, $500 bonus

Charles MegginsonGovernment, Headlines


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The General Assembly’s budget-writing committee on Tuesday approved raises for state workers.

Under the governor’s proposed budget, employees on the lower end of the pay scale would get the most significant boost in pay.

The Joint Finance Committee approved the increases during its first day of “markup,” a period during which the committee takes the governor’s recommended budget and votes on specific funding requests.

State employee pay policy is among the first items typically to be voted on.

Under the plan approved Tuesday, full-time state workers would receive a raise ranging from 2.3% to 9% depending on their pay grade, with the lowest grades receiving higher raises.

Collective bargaining units would receive raises according to whatever they have negotiated.

Education employees would receive a 2% raise.

“We owe it to our dedicated state workers – many of whom worked through the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic – to compensate them fairly and offer meaningful opportunities for career advancement. We’re fortunate this year to be able to not only give a good across-the-board raise, but we’re targeting working Delawareans who most need a raise,” said Joint Finance Committee vice-chair Rep. William Carson, D-Smyrna.

“The cost of goods and services have been increasing rapidly, forcing working families to make tough decisions that no one should have make,” Carson said. “By using a sliding scale for raises, we are ensuring all employees receive a raise, but we’re preventing those on the lower end of the pay scale from falling further behind.”

The average state employee salary is less than $49,000 per year.

“An investment in our state workforce is an investment in the critical services our communities depend on,” said Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, who is chair of the Joint Finance Committee.

“Over the winter, nearly every department of state government rang the alarm about their struggles with staff shortages due at least in part to state salaries coming in at below-market rate,” Paradee said. “As we compete for human infrastructure with major corporations in the area, we need to remain competitive if we are going to hope to maintain the level of services our state provides at its current level.”

Paradee said the pay raises included in the operating budget are not the final investment in the state workforce that needs to be made, but they are a “step in the right direction.”

Under the pay policy approved Tuesday, state pensioners would receive a 2% to 3% increase, depending on their date of retirement.

All state workers, educators, part-time employees and retirees would also receive a one-time $500 bonus, which is more the governor asked for in his recommended budget.

The Joint Finance Committee will continue reviewing and voting on funding priorities for the fiscal 2023 operating budget this week.

Once completed, legislative budget staff will write the final budget bill, which must be approved by the entire General Assembly by June 30.

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