The state of Delaware is one step closer to finalizing a budget.  The FY 2014 state operating budget cleared the House without much debate Tuesday night.

The $3.7 billion budget is approximately 3.6 percent higher than FY 2013.

Rep. Melanie George-Smith (D-Bear/Newark), primary sponsor of House Bill 200 and co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, explained the need for the growth. “Of that 3.66 percent total budget growth, 3.3 percent budget growth was mandatory,” explained Smith. “It was stuff we had to fund like Medicaid increases.”

She said the other point three percent went to groups and programs across the state that would benefit the most from it. “This budget touches everybody in Delaware,” said Smith. “There’s additional money for public safety, police officers, courtroom security, for making our kids safer in schools, for giving them mental health help. There’s money in there for kids with disabilities, there’s money in there for seniors to be able to get more food delivered to them.” 

The bill cleared the house 40-1 with Rep. Ruth Briggs-King (R-Georgetown) voting “no.”

“I become very concerned when I see that our budget and our budget proposal far exceeds the consumer price index for the same time period so we continue to expand government and programs without expanding the revenue,” said King. “I think we need to be looking at things supporting the budget which would be things that would support economic growth and by looking at the tax structure, some of the other expenses we’re placing on the tax payers meaning those who are working and those businesses who are trying to create jobs and revenue.” 

The budget bill heads to the Senate on Thursday while the bond bill is scheduled for the Senate floor Wednesday.