Gov. Dave Heineman has signed three budget bills, without using his line-item veto authority.
“I think overall, he realized it was a good budget and he left it alone,” Appropriations Committee Chairman, Sen. Lavon Heidemann, said after hearing of the governor’s action.
The projects funded varied greatly. They included $80 million in construction for capital improvements, mostly for the state universities and colleges. The bills also included money to fund improvements to the child welfare system and increasing the child welfare provider reimbursement, cut last year.
“Pleasant surprise,” Heidemann says of the governor’s action. “It’s a good day.”
Heidemann, though, is quick to add that the legislature has more work to do. The legislature is considering several bills with hefty price tags. The total now exceeds expected revenue by $10 million. Heidemann and Speaker Mike Flood of Norfolk will meet with senators tomorrow morning to discuss ways to reduce that number, which could include dropping legislation, postponing it or trimming it. He says it would be better for the legislature to deal with the cost rather than abdicating its authority to the governor.
Gov. Heineman did strike $2.5 million from LB 1072 that would have paid 50 claims made by subcontractors of Boys and Girls Home. In a veto letter, Heineman stated that Nebraska had satisfied its obligations under the contract with Boys and Girls Home to provide child welfare services.
“As the State is not an insurer of private contracts, I object to this attempt to make taxpayers responsible for debts incurred by private organizations,” Heineman wrote.
The governor also stated that making payments to the subcontractors would have violated the Nebraska Constitution.
AUDIO: Appropriations Committee Chairman, Sen. Lavon Heideman, on the governor’s budget action. [:35]