Lawmakers on the budget-drafting Joint Finance Committee today voted in favor of several spending increases for public and higher education programs.


Lawmakers on the budget-drafting Joint Finance Committee today voted in favor of several spending increases for public and higher education programs.

Most notably, the committee approved an additional $1.3 million for the SEED scholarship program and broke from a proposal to cap spending for the awards presented in January by Gov. Jack Markell.

The governor’s budget staff relayed word that Markell endorses the move to add money to SEED, in light of some $364 million in additional projected state revenues for next year.

SEED scholarships cover two years of tuition to eligible students in pursuit of associates’ degrees at Delaware Technical and Community College and the University of Delaware.

In recent years, the total cost of the scholarships has exceeded the amount $3 million appropriated by the state. When that has happened, the Department of Education has used other money in its budget to ensure that all eligible students receive their full awards.

When the budget looked bleaker, Markell had proposes capping SEED awards and, if demand exceeded the funds available, pro-rating the money equally among all recipients.

The action taken by JFC not only adds more money to pay for SEED, but it reinforces the policy that all eligible students will be paid in full, even if the total cost surpasses the appropriation.

Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover, got the committee to extend the same protection, without additional money, to the Delaware State University Inspire Scholarship. That program, which is similar to SEED, is slated get $707,000 in its second year of existence.

Other education funding moves approved by JFC today include:

$1.9 million in additional funding for public school foreign language programs; $13 million in funds for day care centers who meet high state standards; and $500,000 to cover the cost of drivers’ education courses for private school students— funds that were cut from the 2008 state budget.