State lawmakers return to the Capitol today for the first day of the new legislative session.
This is the shorter, 60-day session. Last year, legislators worked a 90-day schedule, designed to give the legislature time to adopt a two-year state budget.
Still, budget concerns are expected to dominate this session.
Legislators faced a billion-dollar budget shortfall a year ago and worked to close it. State revenues continue to lag projections, creating a projected $200 million budget shortfall.
“That’s a big chunk of change and most senators have different priorities that they’d like to see stay intact and trying to get a compromise or consensus on some type of reduction package I believe will be difficult,” Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk tells Nebraska Radio Network.
A final revenue projection will be issued by the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board in February with few expecting good news.
Scheer does expect some to keep pushing property tax cuts, even in face of the budget shortfall.
“I’ll withhold my decision to support or not based on how the funding mechanism comes into play,” Scheer says. “I’d like to try to help as much as anyone does, but we can’t shut down state government in order to achieve it.”
One property tax cut proposal gaining some steam at the Capitol would slash as much as $1 billion from state revenue, a significant percentage of the $8.9 billion state budget.
Approximately 200 bills have been held over from last year with as many as 500 expected to be filed by the 49 members of the Unicameral this year. Scheer says with the time constraints of a 60-day session, it is unlikely any bills not prioritized by senators or a committee will be debated this session.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:55]