Guest Comments: The proposed budget hits the mark on education, the economy


By Bettina Tweardy Riveros, Ernie Dianastasis, Paul Herdman

Bettina Tweardy Riveros is senior vice president of ChristianaCare and chair of the Vision Coalition of Delaware. Ernie Dianastasis is CEO and Founder of The Precisionists Inc. and Chair of the Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee. Paul Herdman is Rodel’s CEO and chair of the strategic plan for the Delaware Workforce Development Board.

Governor John Carney announced the proposed state budget for fiscal 24 on January 26. As a member of the First Coalition focused on improving public education and the workforce here in his state, I thank the Governor and his team for prioritizing and creating these issues. Thoughtful and important recommendations for investing in education and a vibrant economy. We also applaud the investments he has made in housing, infrastructure and the environment. All of these intersect education and economics in important ways.

Collectively, we represent two broad coalitions. Employers; 2.) The Delaware Business Roundtable Board of Education is committed to improving education and the economy, from BB Health Care in Sussex to some of the newer companies like JP Morgan Chase and Company, The Precisionist in Newcastle. Represents statewide employers focused on A more established anchor agency like ChristianaCare.

Here are some strategic priorities that resonate with us when it comes to education, especially in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.

  • By increasing our investment in Opportunity Funding for low-income and multilingual learners, we will strengthen our investment in those who need it most and help students reach their potential.
  • To attract and retain good teachers, salaries for all educators will be increased by 3%, and those in classrooms will be increased by another 6%.
  • Investing in the state’s promising Grow Your Own strategy to develop more great educators and diversify the pipeline.
  • Funding mental health support in schools has been a definite need for all of us who have or work with children in the last two years.
  • An unprecedented funding for the Wilmington Learning Collaborative. This has the potential to integrate and substantively support urban schools.
  • A historic proposed investment in quality early childhood education, both in childcare and preschool, critical to ensuring the growth of thousands of young people across the state. This foundation is essential for all subsequent learning and is a key component of the economic infrastructure that underpins today’s workforce.

When it comes to workforce support, some highlights were impressive.

  • With 37,000 jobs and 21,000 job seekers in Delaware, investing in workforce development is essential to building a more responsive economy. State leaders are already investing to expand career exploration to middle school and launch Delaware’s new technology council to help build a more inclusive tech talent pipeline.
  • To help people get back to work and improve their workforce, the critical investment in early parenting mentioned above is a great start.
  • Large investments in state scholarships such as Inspire help young people graduate from high school. And new ones, like the Student Excellence Equals Degree Plus program, help mid-career professionals retrain for new jobs, providing an important stepping stone.
  • The governor’s recommended budget includes smart investments for the future in addition to getting people back to work. As our economy moves toward more biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare, we are investing in joint engineering partnerships with the University of Delaware and Delaware State University, as well as young scientists and new entrepreneurs. Where is the country headed in providing lab space to
  • Our continued focus on “Ready in 6” is critical to sustaining existing business and attracting new business to Delaware. Ri6 is a key public-private initiative focused on accelerating the permitting process and transportation infrastructure. This allows companies to come to Delaware within six months of him or obtain approval to expand their current business. A vibrant corporate base requires a vibrant workforce, and students in the K-12 education system represent the future of Delaware-based companies.
  • With nearly $1 billion from the federal government pouring into the state for infrastructure like roads, bridges, and green jobs like electric vehicle charging stations, the connection between education and our economy must be responsive and seamless.

We believe our investment in the Governor’s recommended budget is a major step forward in expanding educational opportunities for our youth and better preparing the next generation for the economy of 2024 and beyond. We can work together to move forward. Our coalition’s priorities include making education funding more equitable, creating more leadership opportunities for educators, and accelerating learning post-pandemic.

In this politically volatile time where social media is dominated by tweets about what’s wrong, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that the governor and his team were right. I look forward to working with legislative and field colleagues to maximize and build opportunities to invest in education and a vibrant Delaware economy.

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