Figuring out your household budget can be a trying process (at least, I think it is)! Figuring out a budget for the entire state – well that’s just complicated and lengthy. You might be wondering who comes up with our state’s budget each year, how you can get involved in the process, and why it means so much to Delaware’s water quality. Read on to get these answers and more!
How Does Our Legislature Decide How We Spend Money on Clean Water Capital Improvements?
In Delaware, when the governor gives his budget address in January, he kicks off a 5 month process that includes reviews by two legislative committees: The Joint Finance Committee (which reviews operating funds) and the Joint Capital Improvement Committee, commonly called the “Bond Bill Committee,” (which reviews funds for capital improvements).
This year, Governor Carney presented a budget that includes $10 million for open space preservation; $10 million for farmland preservation; and $6 million for clean water investments. This funding is critical to our water quality. But, that doesn’t mean it will make the “final cut!”
The Bond Bill Committee, made up of 6 State Senators and 6 State Representatives, appropriates funds for major and minor state-funded capital improvements. Throughout mid-May, the committee holds public hearings with each state department and state agency to review its financial needs. They weigh these needs and ultimately work towards creating a fiscally-sound budget that addresses our state’s biggest capital improvement issues. During this process, the committee will study the proposed open space preservation funding, farmland preservation funding and clean water funding. It will decide if the proposed appropriations should remain funded as the Governor suggests, be re-appropriated to another more pressing issue, or diminished to plug a hole elsewhere. Then, the committee ultimately presents a final budget to the full legislature for a vote at the end of June.
It is imperative the Bond Bill Committee hears from you and knows this funding is essential to our environment, economy and health! Delaware’s water quality is one of the biggest issues facing our state; but also an issue where capital improvements can make a HUGE difference to so many facets of our everyday lives.
How can you help?
As a Water Warrior, we are asking you to participate and offer comment during this Bond Bill process.
There are a number of ways you can do this!
- Attend the Bond Bill Committee’s May 17, 9:30am public hearing in Dover: This is the scheduled hearing for all capital improvements related to Delaware’s natural resources, including open space preservation, farmland preservation and clean water funding. We encourage you not only to attend, but to provide brief (limited to 2 minutes) testimony on why this funding is important. For talking points, click here. For a full schedule of the Bond Bill’s scheduled hearings, click here.
- Write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper in support of this funding. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to draft and submit a letter!
- Write a letter or email to the members of the Bond Bill Committee asking them to support open space, farmland preservation and clean water funding. We’ve provided talking points and the email addresses for each committee member here!
- Show your support on social media! Use this link to find sample social media posts and images for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Attend our Clean Water Rally on June 5! From 10:30am-12:30pm we’ll be outside Legislative Hall with hundreds of Water Warriors showing support for clean water funding. Then, we’ll head inside Legislative Hall in the afternoon to meet with decision makers and encourage them to support full funding for open space preservation, farmland preservation and clean water. The rally is more important than ever this year as the Bond Bill Committee must wait until June 20, when the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DFAC) provides final revenue projections, to draft its final budget package! Registration is open now!
With the introduction of the Clean Water for Delaware Act (HB270), we’ve opened up the conversation for a need of long-term, sustainable funding for clean water projects. But, with the bill being tabled while legislators study potential funding mechanisms to create a clean water fund, $10 million for open space preservation, $10 million for farmland preservation and $6 million for clean water funding is critical to improving the Delawareans’ health, economy, and environment. Join us in our fight!
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Brenna Goggin is the Director of Advocacy for Delaware Nature Society.