State legislators have restored $100,000 to the Nebraska Brand Committee, money the Appropriations Committee sought to help close the state tax revenue gap.
Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell successfully sponsored an amendment to keep the state from sweeping funds from the committee.
“Now we are setting a precedent of taking $100,000 cash funds out of a highly specific very small agency associated with fees and contributing it to the General Fund,” Kuehn told state lawmakers during legislative floor debate on Legislative Bill 331.
Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango argued the move wouldn’t help the state that much, but would devastate the brand committee.
“It’s not a lot of money in our budget, but it’s a massive amount of money in their budget,” according to Hughes.
Supporters of the amendment acknowledge the problems within the Brand Committee uncovered by a state audit and stated the committee needed the money to help clean up the mess. The state audit disclosed sloppy bookkeeping, personal use of a state-owned vehicle, releasing a check for livestock before paperwork had cleared, among other problems. Executive Director Shawn Harvey resigned in wake of the audit.
Legislators voted 26-2 to restore the funds.
Lawmakers continue to debate the underlying bill, which would sweep a number of fund balances at various state agencies to help with the revenue shortfall.