A bill making budget cuts in the current fiscal year advances in the Unicameral only after a week of debate and the budget committee chairman believes that is an indication of a tougher budget debate to come.
State lawmakers have given first-round approval to $137 million in cuts to the current fiscal year on a 46-to-1 vote.
“I was pleasantly surprised and very happy with the vote,” Sen. John Stinner of Gering, chair of the Appropriations Committee tells Nebraska Radio Network.
LB 22 makes an initial step toward dealing with a projected $900 million revenue shortfall for the 2017-19 biennium budget, the state spending blueprint for the coming two fiscal years.
Gov. Pete Ricketts proposed $157 million in cuts now to ease the pain of budget cuts over the next two fiscal years. The Appropriations Committee took up those proposals and made changes, submitting the bill to the Unicameral for debate.
It took debate over nearly four mornings for the legislature to give preliminary approval to these initial cuts.
Stinner expects an even tougher time once debate turns to the two-year state budget.
“It will probably be pretty contentious. My guess is senators will have different ideas, different priorities,” Stinner says. “My guess is we will have a deliberative, thoughtful debate.”
LB 22 spreads the pain of budget cuts across state agencies, with the exception of public school funding and money for the Department of Correctional Services as the state attempts to ease prison overcrowding.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]