State lawmakers got a bit of economic good news, just a bit.
An increase in state revenue of nearly $55 million has been projected by the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board. Of that, $25 million will be allocated to cash reserves with the remaining $29 million deposited in the state General Fund for the next fiscal year.
It might not be much, but Appropriations Committee chair, Sen. John Stinner of Gering, will take it.
“The forecast was up. I would not classify it as a robust forecast. I mean, when you’re talking $55 million on a budget of $9 billion, that’s not that robust,” Stinner tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Appropriations Committee members had been backing away from cuts proposed by Gov. Pete Ricketts and the revised forecast provided enough cushion to reduce those cuts. It appears the committee will stick with the governor’s recommendation to cut 2% from the state budget across-the-board, or at least mostly across-the-board. School funding and funding for the Department of Correctional Services have been left off the budget-cutting table.
The committee is more reluctant to go along with the governor’s recommendation for a 4% across-the-board cut for the next fiscal year. It has scaled that down to a 1% cut, easing concerns at the University of Nebraska.
“Some people felt the 4% was harsh, especially to higher ed,” according to Stinner. “So, we were able to reverse that based on what we felt the report was.”
Stinner remains concerned about the drop in the cash reserves, the so-called Rainy-Day Fund. Legislators have been dipping into it to avoid deeper budget cuts. It now stands at $296 million. Stinner says the legislature needs to add about $500 million to it over the next few years once the business cycle turns upward.
The budget has yet to hit the floor for debate.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]