A budget battle moves from the committee level to the full legislative body this week.
A nearly $9 billion spending blueprint for the next two years hits the legislative floor for debate this week after lawmakers return from the Easter break.
According to Appropriations Committee chair, Sen. John Stinner, it features shared pain to deal with a nearly one billion dollar revenue shortfall.
“I’ll be probably the most unpopular guy in Nebraska,” Stinner tells Nebraska Radio Network. “It’s a good thing I live in Scottsbluff, 400 miles away, so I can get out of town in June, but there’s something there for everybody. So, it is shared pain.”
Stinner says he believes his committee did some good deliberating, trying to ease the pain of a projected state revenue shortfall, which could grow worse before it gets better. The biennium budget won’t hit the floor with unanimous approval from the committee. The committee passed it on to the full legislature on a 6-3 vote.
The legislature will be asked to approve across-the-board cuts, a sweep of lapsed money, and taking $180 million from the rainy day fund to close the revenue gap.
“You know, I can defend it, I guess is what I can say,” Stinner tells us. “Whether the body agrees with the way the committee looked at it or the way I look at it, at least we have defensible arguments and then it’s up to the body whether they think it’s a good idea or not.”
The two-year state budget would total $8.9 billion and would begin July 1st. Under the spending plan, cash reserves would drop below $400 million, but Stinner says there should be enough budget leeway throughout state government to provide, in effect, a $500-to-600 million cushion.
Three other bills could affect the budget deliberations. Legislative Bill 233, would save approximately $37 million by suspending some tax credits for two years. LB 333 and LB 335 would cut the Department of Health and Human Services budget by an estimated $10 million.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]