Budget dilemma 'solved' for now

Friday, March 19, 2004

LINCOLN -- Legislative Bill 1065, the second item on Tuesday's agenda, missed the opportunity to be heard when deliberations on LB916, first on the list, consumed the day.

This bill, introduced by Sen. Ed Schrock and prioritized by Sen. Carroll Burling, will amend the Livestock Waste Management Act to reflect the new regulations enacted by the federal government for a concentrated animal feeding operation -- CAFO. These federal CAFO regulations would be integrated into the current state program.

Ethanol-related legislation quickly moved further down the pecking order as additional Senator Priority Bills have been advanced out of committee. A major piece of priority legislation that made its way to the top of the agenda on Wednesday was LB1083. This bill, which would adopt the Nebraska Behavioral Health Services Act, focuses on the statewide development of community-based behavioral health services. Debate lasted through the end of the day without a vote on advancement being made prior to adjournment.  

Thursday brought about an expected change of pace, as the morning began with a budget briefing given by Sen. Roger Wehrbein, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Budget discussions officially began that morning and are currently in progress. It would appear the Committee has solved the budget deficit for the second year of the biennium by using a combination of cash reserve funds, spending cuts, and the transference of cash funds. This proposal does not address any future budget years, pending lawsuits, or changes in estimated revenue growth. I am still concerned that projected fiscal growth rate figures of 6.9 and 6.8 percent for 2005-06 and 2006-07 might be overly optimistic.

The Legislature advanced nine budget-related bills by the end of today's business. The upcoming week will consist of a continuation from today's budget agenda with 2004 Senator Priority Bills to follow.   

Sen. Tom Baker

Legislative District 44

State Capitol Building

Room 1101

P.O. Box 94604

Lincoln, NE 68509



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