Outgoing Legislative Speaker Galen Hadley is wrapping up his work at the Capitol and says the new legislature will face some difficult problems when it convenes next week.
Hadley, a state senator from Kearney, remembers entering the legislature eight years ago, trying to keep up with his bills, bills in committee, and bills as they hit the floor. The Revenue Committee on which he served would routinely get at least 1,100 bills over the two-year cycle of a legislative session. As many as 400 bills might make it to the floor for debate.
“So, it was just the sheer amount of work and if you’re new to the system, you’re trying to learn the system at the same time you’re trying to study the bills,” Hadley tells Nebraska Radio Network.
The Unicameral convenes on January 4th with 17 new members, coming on the heels of 18 new senators elected in 2014; 35 of the 49 senators with no more than two years’ experience.
A big issue hovering over this legislative session will be the big shortfall projected over the next two years. At present, it appears revenue will come in $900 million less than forecast.
Hadley says the financial situation reminds him of the first two budgets he faced as a new senator coming into the legislature in wake of the 2008 recession.
“It would have been a bloodbath if we wouldn’t have had the federal funds to help us out and the TEEOSA (public school) funding and other things like that that saved us,” according to Hadley who says the difference this year is the $700 million-plus cash reserve left the new lawmakers. “So now, we need that reserve to help us out at this point in time.”
Hadley says he remembers well the advice of a veteran lawmaker when he began his career in the Unicameral. He remarked to the young senator from Kearney that the legislature was not an event, but a process. Hadley says the validity of the remark became more apparent the longer he served.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]