Most of the budget proposals being laid out by Governor Dave Heineman deal with cuts to agencies and financial transfers. State leaders are wrestling with a two-year budget shortfall of $900-million.
Senator Annette Dubas of Fullerton says she was pleased that most of higher education will be held to a flat budget.
“If we’re going to grow our economy, we have to have a well-educated populace,” Dubas says. “We need to create the jobs so that those who get the education have a job to stay in Nebraska with.”
Dubas says she and her colleagues are in a tough position in dealing with the massive budget gap.
“It’s a very fine line we walk,” Dubas says. “How do we keep our economy chugging along at a time when our citizens are really struggling with being unemployed or having their wages cut or their hours cut? We have to recognize that’s a factor, yet we can’t just completely shut down and automatically start back up again. It’s definitely a balancing act.”
Senator Tyson Larson of O’Neill says the governor’s proposed budget was actually better than he expected.
“It wasn’t the across-the-board cuts,” Larson says. “The governor’s offered some new programs that are pretty interesting to economic development. I’m worried that a lot of it goes to Omaha and Lincoln and not enough to rural Nebraska though (Heineman) has assured the rural centers that 40% of the development money will come to rural Nebraska and I hope that’s true.”
Larson says keeping the property tax credit program fully funded was very important and now senators will have some time to dig through the details. Lawmakers will get an update on the state’s revenue situation again next month.
Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton