After a four-day weekend, the Nebraska legislature will get back to work today as lawmakers launch more floor debate and get ready to take on the budget. Senator Tyson Larson of O’Neill says that budget debate will begin later this month.
Larson says, “Every time we pass a bill or debate a bill that has a fiscal impact, the Appropriations Committee has to go back in and say we’re adding $200,000 here or we’re taking $200,000 away here as a legislature, so they have to go back in and fix their budget.”
The budget must be introduced on April 27th, which is Day 70 of the session and it has to be passed by the 80th day.
Larson says senators have had a chance to look at the early version of the budget from the Appropriations Committee.
“They came out with a preliminary budget and it was pretty similar to the governor’s budget,” Larson says. “It had some subtle differences…but I was very pleased with it. There are things we’re going to have to take a very hard look at and we’re starting to do that now.”
Cities and counties have already had their state aid cut and Larson says schools will also have to work with less.
“They were spoiled a little bit last year with the one-time stimulus funding that allowed them to feel like they were getting their normal increase,” Larson says. “They knew it was a one-time deal. They need to tighten their belts just like everybody else.”
Larson says the proposed $25-million in funding for the Innovation Campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will also get a close look from senators. Some of them would like to see that money diverted and instead go to K-12 education.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton