(Neb)-Unicam Comm Makes Replenishing Rainy Day Fund Top Priority
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Legislature's Planning Committee, comprised of 9 state senators including Speaker Jim Sheer and Appropriations Chairman John Stinner of Gering, says replenishing the state's rainy day fund or cash reserve needs to be a priority.
The panel's report, released Monday, says the fund needs to be built back up to at least two months of average state revenue over the next two budget cycles to minimize the need for sudden unplanned tax increases or painful and costly program cuts if the economy takes a nosedive.
Tough economic times saw lawmakers draw down cash reserves from about $730 million to $330 million dollars to balance the last 2 biennial budgets, a trend the committee report calls "most disturbing" because it meant either expenses weren't cut enough or revenues were raised enough.
The committee warned that "a fiscal crisis will ensue" if that continues with restoring the reserve over the next 4 years "absolutely essential if the state is to meet its obligations and be able to adapt to the unmistakable challenges projected by the Planning Committee over the last decade."
Governor Pete Ricketts will formally introduce his proposed biennial budget this month in his state of the state address. The Legislature's Appropriations Committee will use that proposal as the starting point for the budget it will send to the floor for action in April or May.
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