Nebraska lawmakers will be facing what could be a budget gap of $600-to-700-million when they return to Lincoln in January. Senator Abbie Cornett of Bellevue, chair of the legislature’s Revenue Committee, says they are getting indications that state tax collections are improving.
“Our numbers are better,” Cornett says. “We have had some very hard months and we were under projections for a number of those months and you can see that in the growing deficit in the out years, but hopefully we’ve stabilized.”
Cornett says in any case, senators will have to make some very tough decisions early in 2011.
“It’s going to be a hard session because even if we’ve stabilized, we still have that deficit that we have to address, so that is very difficult,” she says. “That’s going to mean serious budget cuts for a lot of agencies and people are going to feel the pinch of that but optimistic, moving forward, if we’ve stabilized.”
Cornett says across-the-board cuts seem to be favored, with the percentage to be determined. “We’ll be looking at a percentage of that budget so everyone will be asked to cut approximately the same percentage amount from their budget,” Cornett says.
“Education is our largest user of the budget, but everyone will be asked to share the pain.”
Back in July, Nebraska state employees were ordered to take two unpaid furlough days to help close a budget shortfall of more than $70-million. Now, some estimates peg the looming budget gap at closer to 800-million.
Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton