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(Neb)-Debate To Start Tues On Cuts To Balance Nebraska Budget

By: John Axtell Posted at: 03/12/2018 01:49 PM
LINCOLN, Neb, (AP) - Nebraska lawmakers are slated to begin debate Tuesday on changes to the $8.8-billion dollar 2-year budget passed last year to deal with revenue coming in more slowly than predicted when the budget was adopted.

      The state revenue forecasting board last October lowered the amount of money it expected the state to receive over the 2 years in the budget, resulting in a projected $173-million dollar shortfall, but the board's latest update at the end of last month added another $55-million.

     The board is projecting an extra $25-million over the October projection for the current fiscal, money that by law will go into the cash reserve, and $30-million more for next year.

      The budget package being debated this week includes a variety of reductions in spending with the budget-writing Appropriations Committee reducing the level of cuts proposed by the governor.

      It calls for a 1% budget cut next year for higher education instead of the 4% the governor wanted and a 2% across-the-board cut instead of the 4% he proposed for state agencies. Cuts for the rest of the current fiscal year would stay at the 2% put forward by the governor.

      The committee came up with its recommendations before the forecasting board update but after revenue came in higher than predicted in December and January.

      The difference between the committee package and the governor's recommendations is expected to spark a number of disagreements among senators.

       Also expected to draw extended debate are provisions designed to ensure that abortion providers don't get federal family-planning money

      Governor Ricketts says Nebraska is a pro-life state and the budget should reflect it, even though abortion providers are already barred from using federal money for abortions. Opponents of the ban say the wording could prevent low-income people from getting access to other health services as well.

      The proposed budget would leave lawmakers with an ending balance of about $583,000 this year, potentially restricting their ability to spend on new programs or tax cuts.


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