Last week the legislature debated the 2017-2019 state budget bills and gave the final approval on May 9. LB 331 was one of the last three components of the state’s two-year budget, which would create/make funds transfer and lower the minimum cash reserve requirements from 3 to 2.5 percent for the current biennium. This bill initially failed to meet the thirty-three votes needed to pass with the emergency clause meaning no funds could be transferred or created immediately. Some details regarding the 2017-2019 biennium budget are as follows: The Legislative Fiscal Office and the Department of Revenue certification of the February NEFAB forecast projects $533,348,408 net General Fund tax receipts for the month of April 2017. However, the actual net General Fund tax receipts were $477,844,852 which is a difference of $55,503,555. In Nebraska, unlike some other states, the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch has always agreed to budget from the forecasting board projections. The forecasting board bases their projections off of information provided to them by both the Nebraska Department of Revenue and the Legislative Fiscal Office. In order to meet the fiscal year projection, we would need May and June receipts to increase by 5.35 percent each month, which is unlikely to happen.
This past Tuesday, May 9, I attended and spoke at a press conference, with twelve other senators, about our concerns with the budget bills. I did not like the budgeting bills because I believed that the forecasting numbers were not accurate. The numbers will eventually be lower moving forward because the Ag economy is down as of now. The urban economies have yet to be impacted by the ripple effect however, it is still coming. We have also been under forecast on receipts for fourteen out of the last twenty-two months. Ultimately, the legislature needs to cut more spending.
These bills went to Governor Ricketts’ desk for him to decide whether to sign them or to make line-item vetoes. The governor has stressed his opinion about wanting more cuts, as well as, not lowering the minimum reserve. By the time you read this article we will know what line items he has vetoed and which lines the legislature sustained or over road.
Congratulations to all the recent high school and college graduates from the district! I would also like to congratulate all of the athlete’s from the 44th Legislative District who qualified for the state track meet. Congratulation’s and Good Luck!