The economic downturn most other states are experiencing has finally arrived full-force in Nebraska. On October 7th, Governor Heineman announced his plans to convene a special session of the Legislature in order to address greater than expected shortfalls in state tax revenue receipts.
According to the Nebraska Department of Revenue, tax receipts in the month of September fell by $40 million, or 11.2%, from what was originally forecast by the NE Economic Forecasting Advisory Board in April. Overall, Nebraska’s tax receipts are 6.5% less than projected for the first quarter of the current budget biennium. In response to the decrease in revenue, and the likelihood of additional losses, a special session of the Legislature is expected to begin in early November to revise the budget passed earlier this year.
At this time, it is unclear how long the special session will last. The minimum amount of time required under law is seven days. However, past sessions have gone longer. It all depends on how much consensus there is coming into the debate. As in a regular session, the Governor will make his recommendations and the Legislature will approve, change, or reject these recommendations. The final budget will then be sent back to the Governor for approval or vetoes.
The Appropriations Committee will be meeting prior to the session to discuss areas where reductions can be made and individual senators, including myself, are also preparing to make our own recommendations. Governor Heineman has made it clear all options are on the table, except for tax increases. I agree with him and plan on going into the debate with an open mind towards cutting costs while avoiding tax hikes. Just as many families are making tough choices in their budgets, we must do the same with the state budget.
I welcome any suggestions or comments you may have for the upcoming special session. Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you!