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I want to invite you to a town hall meeting I am hosting with my special guest Kyle Schneweis, Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) Director. It will be from 1:00 to 2:00 PM on Thursday, October 25th, at the Stromsburg Senior Center (118 East 3rd Street). I asked Director Schneweis to join me for a public discussion about NDOT’s Surface Transportation Program Book that was recently released for the Fiscal Years 2019 through 2024. Please join us if you are interested in transportation projects proposed over the next one to five years. There will also be an opportunity for questions from the public about other transportation issues.
Over the last couple weeks, I have written about Nebraska’s budget, including revenues collected by the State and local governments and a broad overview of State spending. I invite you to visit my website, http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist24/ if you have missed reading these columns. This week, I am highlighting some of the larger programs funded by State general revenue dollars including education, human services and public safety.
Most general fund dollars collected fund a handful of education, health and human services and public safety programs. In education and cultural development for example, we spend almost $2 billion annually with the bulk of the funding going to the TEEOSA State Aid to Schools (48%), University of Nebraska Agency Operations (28%) and Special Education (11%).
Last year we spent over $1.6 billion on health and human services. More than half of that, $836 million, was spent on Medicaid alone. Funding for the Nebraska Supreme Court and Department of Corrections Services account for more than 80% of law enforcement and public safety general fund programming. The 13.4% increase in public finance programs over the last three fiscal years were caused by increasing the Homestead Exemption by $7.35 million while implementing the $13.8 million Personal Property Tax Exemption over the same period of time.
A large budget item not included in the general fund budget is the Real Property Tax Credit which was enacted in 2007. Under this program, transfers are made out of the general fund to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund at the discretion of the Legislature. The total amount of credit available for statewide distribution this year is $224 million.
In reality, a handful of government programs dramatically influence the general fund budget in Nebraska. Any increase or decrease in these programs have a significant impact on the budget. In fact, only 15 programs accounted for 81% of the increased government spending over the last three fiscal years.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is email@example.com, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Todd and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance.