State revenue is still lagging behind, but how state officials view the latest figures depends on their perspective.
For Appropriations Committee chair, Sen. John Stinner of Gering, the figures provide a bit of relief. April net receipts were projected to be down by $65 million. They actually came in down $55 million.
Stinner acknowledged to his colleagues in the Unicameral that revenues remain below forecast.
“But, in comparing apples to apples, sheet to sheet, we’re actually $10 million better,” Stinner stated.
A less rosy assessment comes from Gov. Pete Ricketts, who pointed out to reporters that revenues for this fiscal year lag so far behind they would have pick up by better than 5% the next two months to meet budget projections for this fiscal year.
“We have very serious budget issues right now and when the Appropriations Committee takes that down from 3% to 2 ½% it’s putting us at more risk,” according to Ricketts.
Ricketts referred to the decision by the Appropriations Committee to lower the minimum budget reserve from 3% to 2 ½%. Ricketts opposed the move, but gives no indication whether he will approve it or veto it.
Ricketts took the unusual step of calling reporters for a news conference on Thursday in which he used a large note pad on an easel to write financial numbers. Ricketts said state revenue has yet to pick up and likely won’t until the agricultural economy picks up.
Ricketts noted actual revenue receipts have missed the forecast for 14 of the last 22 months.
State lawmakers have just concluded work on the $8.9 billion state budget for the next two years, which begins July 1st. The hastily called news conference could signal the governor plans to use his authority to make deeper cuts to the next biennium budget than those approved by the legislature. Ricketts though when asked repeatedly about his plans for the budget bills declined to tip his hand.
The governor has until the end of Monday to act on the budget bills.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]