Nebraska’s latest revenue estimate shows a drop in state tax collections by another $55-million, which may translate to more spending cuts.
Earlier cuts are trickling down, according to Michael Chipps, president of Northeast Community College in Norfolk. He says they’ve already had to adjust with a 4% mid-year budget cut.
“The one thing beautiful about Nebraska community colleges is that we have set aside rainy day funds to be able to accommodate the cuts because we know those will come,” Chipps says. “Also, we need to accommodate the growth where we can build in higher levels of skilled workforce. It’s a combination of those two things.”
Chipps says they can adapt to budget cuts, but there could be consequences later.
“I’ve always told our board I can work in a regressive mode,” Chipps says. “What I’ve asked the education committee and the appropriations committee in Lincoln is, what do you want of your community college system? The governor talks about pro-business as part of his election platform. How do you do that without your community colleges?”
Chipps says community colleges play an important role in economic development in Nebraska and he posed a scenario to legislators during his recent visit to the Unicameral.
“For a moment, remove community colleges out of the equation, out of your formula, out of your mind,” Chipps says. “Really, now, who’s going to fill that void? K-12 is not going to fill that. They’re not designed to do that. Universities are not designed to do that. State colleges are not designed to do that, but we are certainly set up to be able to deliver on the governor’s promise of a pro-business platform.”
Nebraska lawmakers are debating cuts to make up a near-$1-billion hole in the next two-year budget.
Reporting by Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton