The legislature’s Appropriations Committee chairman is pleased with the progress of the $8.6 billion state budget in the Unicameral.
State lawmakers breathed a sigh of relief when the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board restored $10 million to its estimate of state revenue rather than lower the estimate. The board in February reduced its estimate of state revenue by $10 million. It restored that money during its meeting last week.
No legislator was more pleased by the revised revenue estimate than Sen. Health Mello of Omaha, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, who says his committee greeted the news by funneling more to property tax relief.
“Utilize a very small portion of that for some minor tweaks and changes to the budget and then appropriate $8 million to the property tax credit fund,” Mello tells Nebraska Radio Network.
The increase brings the total budgeted to the property tax relief fund to $204 million each year of the biennium.
State legislators entered this legislative session proclaiming property tax cuts as their top priority. Efforts to reduce property taxes on farmland failed to make it to the floor. Other bills have been bottled up. The property tax relief fund has become the only avenue to cut the tax bills of property owners this session.
Mello is proud the proposed budget addresses the Unicameral’s key priorities.
“Property tax relief, public education funding, higher education funding, public-private partnerships, as well as addressing the challenges in the department of corrections,” according to Mello.
Legislators gave preliminary approval to the spending blueprint proposed by the Appropriations Committee last week.
The proposed state budget relies on a 3.1% increase in state revenue. It proposes increasing spending by more than $400 million.
If approved, 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.
The budget must pass two more rounds of voting before it can be sent to the governor.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]