The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite being over a year into a global pandemic that has shuttered businesses and caused record unemployment, Nebraska’s February economic forecast was surprisingly very positive. However, because of the many unknowns that come with an unexpected event such as a pandemic, the Legislature exercised constraint and fiscal responsibility in passing the new biennial budget for the state of Nebraska.
The $9.7 billion budget, which has been approved by Governor Pete Ricketts, represents a conservative 1.7 percent annual budget growth. Instead of spending excess funds on expensive new government programs, the Legislature significantly increased the state’s cash reserve fund by $351 million, bringing the total to $763 million. The cash reserve fund, also known as the “rainy-day fund” provides important security for the state in cases of emergencies and was tapped at the onset of the pandemic before federal aid became available.
While the budget ensures fiscal security in times of emergencies, it also addresses key concerns of Nebraska citizens. Over the two-year budget, the state will be contributing roughly $1.45 billion in property tax relief through the state’s homestead exemption program, the State’s Property Tax Relief Fund and the new refundable property tax credit, based on property taxes paid to school districts. Even if you have already filed your taxes, you can still apply the credit. Information can be found on the Department of Revenue’s website: https://revenue.nebraska.gov/about/frequently-asked-questions/school-district-property-tax-credit-faqs.
The budget for Fiscal Years 2021/2022 & 2022/2023 also increases the Medicaid reimbursement to child welfare and mental health care providers by 2% to ensure Nebraska’s most vulnerable citizens continue to get needed services. Additionally, the budget supports the state’s strong educational system by appropriating over $1 billion to K-12 public schools and including private colleges in the state’s Career Scholarships program.
Finally, $115 million has been earmarked as partial payment for a $230 million new prison being proposed by the Governor. While the Legislature and the administration have come to an agreement to aggressively pursue efforts to reduce Nebraska’s prison population, the Nebraska State Penitentiary is over 150 years old and nearing the end of its useful life. The Legislature is requiring a needs study to be conducted before additional funding for the proposal will be approved.
Members of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee deserve recognition for crafting a two-year state budget that responsibly addresses essential services, protects taxpayers and looks to the future; ensuring Nebraska remains a great state to call home.
Streaming video provided by Nebraska Public Media