With a month to go before Delaware has to finalize a budget for 2014, the group charged with money projections is giving the state a thumbs up and then some for how much money will be available to be spent.
In January, Governor Jack Markell recommended a balanced budget of approximately $3.7 billion. At the final meeting before that budget is voted on, the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) projects the state will have just over $3.8 billion in general fund revenue for FY 2014.
The surplus comes out to around $21.7 million. A slight spike in corporation tax revenue and collecting debts such as back taxes piggybacked off federal audits contributed to the additional revenue, according to Tom Cook, secretary of finance.
Cook said the funds could go toward a number of projects.
“Whether it’s the Joint Finance Committee or the Bond Bill Committee, there’s certainly a lot of demands out there with respect to court security, after school programs, initiatives creating jobs,” said Cook. “There are a lot of tough decisions still left.”
He said one thing the state doesn’t want to do is add something to the base budget that it can’t support down the road.
“I think it’s important as we’ve worked over the years not to certainly build into the base budget ongoing costs when you can’t afford them in the future years,” said Cook. “As you can see, even looking out into FY 2015, there’s still going to be challenging times.”
One challenge could come from an unnamed company that requested a $63 million tax refund for business it allegedly conducted out of state. That money is currently being counted as part of the corporate tax revenue. Cook said he has not received any action from that company and doesn’t see the issue being solved anytime soon.
“We have not had any further contact with the company that requested it,” said Cook. “We sent out in December, questions that we had and there’s been no response at this point. I said at the April meeting that I would not see this being solved this fiscal year and I stick by that.”
The JFC will spend the next several weeks marking up the governor’s recommended budget. DFAC will hold a final meeting in mid-June. FY 2014 begins July 1.