Gov. Pete Ricketts defends inserting Title X language into the state budget and asserts legislators need to revive stalled budget talks and pass a spending plan before time runs out.
Ricketts insists lawmakers have plenty of time to pass a blueprint to deal with falling state revenue.
“We have to cut our costs, we have to live within our means just like every Nebraska family does,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network in an interview in his office. “The legislature still has time, but they need to get their act together and pass a balanced budget.”
Legislators advanced two budget bills Wednesday before bogging down on the main budget bill, LB 944 Wednesday. Opponents of the governor’s Title X language mounted a filibuster. Supports fell three votes short of the total needed to break the filibuster and go to a vote on the bill.
The language in the bill stipulates that the federal funding can only go to clinics which do not perform abortions. If a clinic provides both, such as is the case with Planned Parenthood clinics, a separate clinic would have to be created to receive the money.
Ricketts rejects suggestions that maintaining separate clinics, one for family planning another for abortions, is too burdensome.
“Creating a new business is not a difficult thing,” Ricketts insists. “It could be easily done if they had the wherewithal and the will to do it.”
Ricketts criticizes members of the Appropriations Committee who unanimously supported the budget bills, with the Title X language included, but failed to provide the votes needed to overcome the filibuster, calling it “unprecedented and disingenuous.”
LB 944 doesn’t just contain Title X language, it contains the budget cuts needed to shore up the $8.8 billion biennium budget approved last year yet burdened by a drop of state revenue totaling nearly $175 million as well as an increase in expenses.
The bottom line is the legislature must find three more votes to overcome a filibuster over the Title X language to move LB 944.
“Well, that’s what this legislature has to do,” Ricketts says. “They have to pass a balanced budget. They have to cut the budget to be able to do that. The language in here will prevent those taxpayers’ dollars from funding abortions. They need to pass the bill that way as well. And so, they just need to pull their act together and find those votes.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]