Tense Budget Negotiations Over Additional Unemployment Benefits

Last week in Delaware saw tense moments in the Joint Finance Committee hearings, a botched rollout of a new insurance plan, and a busy week for Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long. During the JFC hearing, Delaware State University addressed recent student protests and the immediate changes the university plans to take, while Delaware Technical Community College faced questions from Senator Dave Lawson regarding salaries of leadership and reports of employees being “run out” after discussions of unionizing. Last week also saw Governor John Carney sign legislation increasing the maximum unemployment weekly benefits from $400 to $450.

The botched rollout of a new insurance plan, Delaware First Health, left 40,000 Delawareans on Medicaid without care. State officials said all of these residents are still enrolled in Medicaid, but Medicaid recipients say their providers have denied them services due to their new insurance. The lieutenant governor announced 44,000 cans of baby formula will be available to families with a baby younger than 12 months old, and also released a report outlining 12 action items that, if taken, will lead to “the strong footing required to continue strengthening Delaware in measures of child well-being and education.”

This week, Joint Finance Committee hearings will continue with the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Corrections. The city of Wilmington was also awarded a $200,000 federal grant to improve its sidewalks and crosswalks in order to combat historic levels of traffic fatalities. With many of the action items outlined in the lieutenant governor’s report being broad or vaguely worded, it will be interesting to see what Hall-Long does in the coming months.