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The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board met this past Thursday where there was discussion of an increase in the previously projected revenue forecasts for FY2019-20 and FY2020-21. The current fiscal year began on July 1. This board provides an advisory forecast of general fund receipts used by the Legislature to craft the state’s budget. The board meets three times a year and determines whether they have a necessity to raise or lower revenue projections. They use these estimates to determine how much tax money the Legislature has to shape the state’s budget. They are projecting an overall increase of $160.9 million in revenue for FY2019-20. Within the first three months of FY2019-20 revenue projections were $76 million above what was forecasted at the time. We even had a 5% increase in tax collections in the month of August that the state Department of Revenue announced in September. There is an additional $265.9 projected increase that is to be expected for FY2020-21. By law, these additional projected funds must be added to the state’s rainy day fund which would bring our Cash Reserve to $616 million.
During our last session, the Legislature adopted a budget that increased Medicaid provider rates, fully funded K-12 school aid, and also put $51 million into the state’s property tax credit fund, bringing it to a total of $275 million. This reduces the amount owed on property tax bills and the tax load upon Nebraskans.
The governor said the new forecast will allow property tax relief to move full steam ahead during the upcoming legislative session and I hope that is true. There are still ongoing discussions on how to provide tax relief and I am hopeful the legislature will find a way to make meaningful changes. There will also be other demands for this additional revenue. I am sure most of you have been following the staffing challenges within our prison system which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Plus we have made several reductions in spending growth over the past three years and the agencies affected will be looking to recover some of those dollars as well.
Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is (402) 471-2805. You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov, and you can click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other Capitol events.