An effort to cut off debate and go to a vote on the main budget bill fell three votes short Wednesday after hours of legislative debate.
Appropriations Committee chair, Sen. John Stinner of Gering, worries about what happens if the deadlock can’t be broken.
“It’s pretty messy if we don’t get it passed,” Stinner tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Legislators advanced two other budget bills Wednesday before bogging down on the bill which includes cuts to state agencies and higher education. LB 946 authorizes transferring $100 million from the state Rainy Day Fund. LB 945 authorizes sweeping a total of $16 million in cash reserves from several funds, needed next fiscal year only if state revenue doesn’t rebound. Both have advanced to Final Reading.
LB 944 would cut state agencies 2% both this fiscal year and next fiscal year. It would cut the University of Nebraska budget by 2% this fiscal year and 1% next fiscal year. A move to increase the cut to NU by 3% failed.
The bills seek to shore up a state budget passed last year burdened by a drop of state revenue totaling nearly $175 million as well as increased expenses, especially a jump of $55 million in the cost of child welfare services.
Those numbers didn’t cause the deadlock.
Language inserted in the bill did.
Gov. Pete Ricketts proposes language restricting the appropriation of nearly $2 million in federal Title X funding, which provides family planning, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screening, mainly for poor women. The governor’s language would allow agencies to receive the federal funding only if health clinics are separate from clinics which provide abortions. Opponents of the language accuse Ricketts of attempting to cut Planned Parenthood out of the budget.
Appropriations Committee Vice Chair, Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln, is asked if a compromise on Title X language can be reached.
“I think a compromise must be reached to move forward on the budget,” Bolz tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Bolz says several drafts have been written.
“We’ve been reaching out to experts and stakeholders to try to get other people’s opinions about how we can resolve these issues,” Bolz says.
Speaker Jim Scheer tells reporters he will not re-schedule debate on the bill unless he receives assurances the votes are there to advance the bill.
Stinner holds out hope an agreement can be reached and the budget bills passed.
“Oh, yeah, we’re not going to give up, that’s for sure.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]