Updated revenue forecast gives Delaware budget writers a little more breathing room

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NEW CASTLE, Delaware — The state panel that sets Delaware's official revenue projections gave lawmakers a little more breathing room Monday as they begin wrapping up work on a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council on Monday raised its revenue estimate for the current fiscal year by $16 million compared to last month's estimate. An increase in abandoned property collections helped offset declines in corporate income taxes, real estate transfer taxes and gambling revenue.

Declines in those same revenue categories continued through for the fiscal year starting July 1, but without the help of a similar increase in projected abandoned property collections. The result was $7.1 million less in estimated revenue for next year compared to last month's estimate.

With a slight carryover from this year to next and additional returns by state agencies of previously allocated money that has not been spent, the net result is that lawmakers have about $2 million more available then they did last month.

But they still face a $12 million shortfall compared to the budget that Gov. Jack Markell proposed in January.

Given that the legislature's finance committee has completed work on a $3.8 billion operating budget for next fiscal year, the $12 million likely will have to come from revisions to Markell's proposed $461 million capital budget and a $45 million grants package for fire companies, community groups and nonprofits.

The legislative committees responsible for drafting the operating budget and capital budgets were scheduled to meet Tuesday.

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