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The State of Nebraska is quickly going broke. Many State legislators have been spending money faster than revenue has been flowing, or should I say ‘trickling’, into the State’s coffers, and if we don’t do something about it soon the State will soon go broke. Nebraska has a spending problem and today I am going to show you why.
The State of Nebraska has been living off of its cash reserves, and those cash reserves are starting to dry up. Back in 2016 we had more than $680.6 million sitting in our cash reserves. But that situation began to change the very next year. In Fiscal Year 2017-2018 our estimated cash reserves were projected to fall to $562.5 million. Then, the cash reserves for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 were originally projected to be only $379.5 million; however, when the Revised Biennial Budget came out in May of this year the readjusted projections for our estimated cash reserves pushed them down to $296.4 million. Needless to say, the State is going broke.
In 2017 I advised the State Legislature to make $250 million in spending cuts from the State’s Biennial Budget. The loss of revenue from the State’s coffers turned out to be $223 million. So, my projection was very close to what actually came in. Had we made those spending cuts, we would not be in the dire situation we are in today.
The State of Nebraska has less money in its cash reserves than the University of Nebraska has in theirs. In order to maintain its AAA credit rating, the University of Nebraska maintains at least $330 million in its cash reserves. As you can see, that is more than we have in our State’s cash reserves. Consequently, we can no longer afford to continue funding an institution with a never ending appetite for more State money.
As I indicated last week, if the voters pass Medicaid expansion in November, the Appropriations Committee will have to somehow come up with an additional $45-$90 million to pay for it, and they will have to do this on top of solving our State’s current revenue problems. What this will mean for the voters is more money out of your pockets. State legislators will either have to make enormous cuts in the State’s Biennial Budget or open up new streams of revenue for the State, or do both.
Finally, Nebraska needs to fix its prison system, and it will likely cost the State millions of dollars to do it. Nebraska’s prisons are overcrowded, understaffed, and underfunded. Back in April the State lost a labor ruling, forcing it to bring an end to its 12 hour work shifts. This means that our corrections facilities need to hire more workers, and that means even more money.
As you can see, with the trickling of our revenue sources, Nebraska is going broke. Once we go into the new Legislative Session in January, I will create a special file for those bills which come in with a positive fiscal note attached, and I will label that new file as “The Trash Can.”
On another note, I would like to encourage everyone living in Nebraska to register to vote. You may register in person or by mail. If you choose to register in person, you may do so at the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you choose to register by mail, you may download the application online by going to: https://www.dmv.org/ne-nebraska/voter-registration.php. If you register by mail, the envelope must be postmarked by October 19.
How do you know if you are eligible to vote? You may register to vote in Nebraska if you are a United States citizen, if you will turn 18 years old on or before Election Day, and if you reside in Nebraska. You are ineligible to vote if you have been declared mentally incompetent or are a convicted felon and it has been less than two years since you were discharged from supervised release.