Governor Makes No Cuts in Approving Budget

May 28, 2019, 5:23 p.m. ·


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Governor Pete Ricketts has signed the state budget for the next two years without vetoing any spending.

Nebraska governors have line-item veto authority, which gives them the power to reduce spending approved by the Legislature. But Gov. Pete Ricketts didn’t use that authority when he signed the budget bills.

The total approved by the Legislature, at $9.3 billion, was about $12 million, or about a tenth of a percent more than proposed by the governor.

Ricketts had proposed 2 percent increases in Medicaid payments only for nursing homes. The Legislature extended that to other Medicaid providers, including doctors, hospitals and dentists. "Access to health care is an important thing that we need to take care of,' said Sen. John Stinner, chairman of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee.

The budget doesn’t include the governor’s proposal for $7 million worth of college scholarships in subjects related to high wage, high-demand jobs. But it does contain $5 million for new drug courts in Wilber, Papillion, York, and Norfolk, and veterans courts in Grand Island and Omaha. The so-called problem solving courts are aimed at keeping people out of the state’s overcrowded prisons.

In his signing announcement, Ricketts said “Our ongoing commitment to controlling spending helped the state do property tax relief this year, and has set the state up to expand relief in years to come.”

He was referring to $275 million approved for each of the next two years to be put into a property tax credit fund. The state uses that money to offset part of the property taxes Nebraskans would otherwise pay for local government services like schools and police. This year, that fund offsets about $86 in taxes for the owner of a $100,000 house, and $1,040 for the owner of farmland valued for tax purposes at $1 million. Next year, those offsets would rise to approximately $106 for the homeowner and $1,280 for the farmer.

The Legislature is scheduled to meet just two more days this year. On Thursday, senators will take a final vote on an abortion-related bill. It would require abortion providers tell women they can get information from state website if they change their mind after taking the first of two abortion-inducing pills. On Friday, lawmakers will have a chance to consider any vetoes by the governor of legislation passed last week