(Neb)-Budget Sent To Governor Listen
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Legislature on Tuesday finished its #1 goal for the session - passage of a new 2-year state budget. The $8.9 billion package of bills increases spending by an average of 1.1% annually, well below the historical average.
The final-round vote followed a contentious debate over state spending and tax collections, with several arguing that more cuts were needed to avoid the possibility needing a special session to cut spending or raise taxes if state revenue continues to lag.
The various bills making up the budget needed to pass with a two-thirds majority - 33 votes - to be granted emergency status and avoid waiting 3 calendar months after the end of the session to take effect, which would be nearly 2 months after the start of the new fiscal year July 1st.
After one of the bills received only 32 votes, Appropriations Committee Chairman John Stinner of Gering tried to work through his emotions as he blasted his colleagues for not thinking of the rest of the people of Nebraska.
Stinner then moved to reconsider the vote and the bill was passed a second time with 36 votes. The other bills all passed with 33 or more votes, allowing the budget to take effect as scheduled.
Lawmakers began the session with a projected revenue shortfall of nearly $900 million and balanced the budget with a combination of cuts, withdrawals from the state's rainy-day fund, tapping money from various cash accounts, and trimming the required cash reserve by one-half of 1%.
Gov. Pete Ricketts has voiced concerns about several parts of the budget, especially reducing the amount of money going into the cash reserve, so he is expected to issue a package of line-item vetoes.
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