DOVER, Del. (AP) — The state Senate has approved a bill giving Delaware's community college system authority to issue bonds to finance capital improvements.
The legislation cleared the Senate on a 19-1 vote Tuesday and now goes to the House.
The bill is aimed at helping Delaware Technical and Community College address a deferred maintenance backlog of almost $100 million, but it's unclear how much relief the legislation might actually provide.
The legislation simply states that it is the "intent" of the General Assembly to appropriate at least $10 million annually for the next five years to a new Community College Infrastructure Fund in the annual capital budget. There's no requirement that the legislature actually do so.
Meanwhile, the bonding authority that the bill gives the community college system may never be used if officials can't find a dedicated revenue source to secure the debt.
"The bonding authority would be in place in the event at some future year a dedicated revenue source is identified," Del Tech president Mark Brainard told lawmakers.
The bill also notes that Del Tech could not issue promissory notes or bonds until they have been authorized by the General Assembly in the annual capital budget.
"It will give us an opportunity to plan and invest in the deferred maintenance issue that we have. ... This expresses options that we will be able to go forward and make those proper investments," Brainard said after the vote.
The proposal is an alternative to earlier legislation that would have imposed an unprecedented statewide property tax to benefit Del Tech, an idea that was shelved amid public outcry.
"You will never hear me propose a property tax again," Brainard assured Dover-area Republican Colin Bonini, who was a leading opposition voice to the property tax plan.