Gov. Pete Ricketts says the state should be able to manage its $8.8 billion budget even though legislators backed off the cuts he recommended.
Ricketts recommended 2% across-the-board budget cuts this fiscal year, followed by 4% across-the-board cuts next fiscal year.
Nebraska faces a couple of budgetary problems. State revenue is not keeping up with projections, falling $175 million behind. Costs of state child welfare services have risen by more than $55 million.
Members of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee trimmed those recommendations made by the governor, going along with the 2% cuts this year, but recommending only 2% across-the-board cuts to state agencies and only a 1% cut to the University of Nebraska budget for next fiscal year.
The Unicameral accepted the committee recommendations, also approving a $100 million transfer from cash reserves. It approved sweeping $16 million from various fund balances if needed for next fiscal year.
Though the legislature didn’t accept his recommendations, Ricketts believes the budget will balance for the biennium.
“So, obviously, we’d be safer if we had taken deeper cuts, but where we are right now, if our revenues meet forecasts, we would be able to manage it,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network during an interview.
Nebraska University supporters cast the proposed Ricketts cuts as crippling to its mission.
Ricketts says all needed to share in the pain of declining state revenue projections and sees room for the university to cut.
“If you look at, for example, how they’ve grown administrative costs over the last several years, they’ve have opportunities to be able to go and re-look at that and still be able to fulfill their mission while controlling their expenses,” according to Ricketts.
Ricketts counts an economic turn-around, pointing to several business expansions underway in the state.
“So, we are certainly seeing areas of growth in our state,” Ricketts says. “What happens with regard to commodity prices, which has driven a lot of our revenues not hitting our forecasts, is still up in the air.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]