State lawmakers have begun debate on an $8.7 billion state budget for the next two years, advancing it to the next round.
Appropriations Committee Chairman, Sen. Health Mello of Omaha, said the committee attempted to address pressing needs while cleaning up some old issues.
“The Appropriations Committee particularly focused on property tax relief, K-12 education and higher education, economic development, and investing in unique public-private partnerships and addressing issues surrounding our department of corrections,” Mello told colleagues as he opened debate on the state budget.
The proposed state budget relies on a 3.1% increase in state revenue. It proposes increasing spending by more than $400 million.
If approved, the budget would increase funding to the property tax relief fund by $120 million over the two-year period. State aid to schools would increase by nearly $80 million. State funding to Nebraska universities and colleges would increase by almost $54 million, with community colleges benefiting from an $8.6 million increase.
Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion, a member of the Appropriations Committee, told fellow legislators he’s pleased, for the most part.
“We’re somewhere north of $400 million new spending, that doesn’t exactly please me,” Kintner said. “We kept it at 3.1. That does please me. Nobody got everything they wanted in this budget. There’s probably something in this budget to offend every one of the 49 members here.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]