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(Neb)-Forecasting Board Bumps 2-Year Revenue Project Up $266-M

By: John Axtell Posted at: 10/25/2019 08:59 AM
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board has boosted its projections for state revenue over the next 2 years by $266-million dollars, a move expected to spark renewed battles in the Legislature over spending, building reserves, and tax cuts - especially property taxes.

     The Forecasting Board says a strong state economy should generate $161 million more in the current fiscal year than it expected when issuing its last projections in April and another $105 million in the fiscal year starting next July.

     Under state law, about $161 million of that total will flow automatically into the state's cash reserve fund, which is designed for emergencies and one-time expenses, leaving lawmakers and Gov. Pete Ricketts with about $102 million to spend.

     Revenue Committee Chairman Senator Lou Ann Linehan says lawmakers need to use that money to lower property taxes, and Governor Pete Ricketts agrees. Ricketts issued a statement saying it will "allow property tax relief to move full steam ahead" during next year's session.

     Renee Fry, executive director of the liberal-leaning OpenSky Policy Institute, is more cautious and urges most of the unexpected windfall to go into rebuilding the cash reserve, which was drawn down well below recommended levels to weather recent state revenue struggles.

     Fry says it would be "extremely risky to use what could be a temporary uptick in revenue to fund ongoing spending obligations or tax cuts."


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