Gov. Pete Ricketts has already cut $11 million from the legislature’s nearly $9 billion state budget for the next two years over concerns about sagging state revenue.
More cuts could be coming.
Ricketts won’t say the legislature built a biennium budget on too rosy a revenue outlook, but.
“We have seen our revenues miss forecasts significantly over the course of last year and I’m concerned about taking the reserve down from 3% to 2 ½% and I’m concerned about some of the other things they’re doing,” Ricketts tells reporters.
Ricketts has expressed concerns about a number of steps legislators took to close the nearly $1 billion revenue gap in an effort to avoid deeper budget cuts. The budget sent to the governor relies on a $173 million transfer from the rainy day fund. It also sweeps cash reserve funds from a number of agency accounts.
The governor has also been critical of the legislature’s move to reduce the minimum budget reserve from 3% to 2 ½%, saying the move lowers the minimum reserve in the state’s checking account, putting the state’s finances at risk.
Ricketts says actual state tax revenue has fallen short of the forecast 14 of the last 22 months, indicating the state needs to cut its budget until revenue picks up.
Again, Ricketts declines to directly state the revenue projection on which the legislature approved its budget is too high.
“I’m not on that forecasting board, so I don’t know all of the things that they’ve taken a look at, but I definitely have concerns with regard to where our revenues are going just based upon what we’ve seen over the course of the last year,” Ricketts says.
The biennium budget approved by the Unicameral, which runs through June 30th of 2019, totals $8.9 billion in general fund spending. It provides for a one percent growth in state spending.
State lawmakers faced a billion dollar state tax revenue shortfall when they convened. The Appropriations Committee recommended approximately $700 million in budget cuts, then took $173 Million from the state “rainy day” fund, swept cash reserves from a number of state agencies, and lowered the minimum budget reserve from 3% to 2 ½%.
The budget does increase spending on public education and corrections while adding to the Property Tax Credit Fund.
The governor used his line-item veto authority Friday to cut $11 million from LB 330e, which would have financed an upgrade to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the Capitol. He has until the end of today to act on the remainder budget bills.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]