This week I wanted to recap and highlight where Nebraska's budget sits at the end of the 2010 Legislative Session.
With a unanimous vote of 49-0, the Legislature passed LB 935, which was the mainline budget bill, on March 26 along with the other budget bills. The Governor signed the budget bills on April 1 putting in place a -1.1 percent reduction in General Fund appropriations over the two-year biennium, and balancing our budget.
Just like the 5 percent across the board reduction to most operations and aid programs during the November 2009 Special Session, the 2010 budget adjustment included a 2 percent reduction to the same programs. The Executive Board of the Legislature authorized as part of these reductions one furlough day for Legislative employees on April 2.
Unlike many other states, with $322 million in our cash reserve savings, and the willingness of all branches of government to rein in spending and growth, we have, as a state, put ourselves in a strong financial position to confidently address the economic future of Nebraska.
This does not mean that tough decisions will not have to be made, or painful cuts will not need to be made in the next budget cycle if the economy does not recover. It just means that we should be able to address our revenue shortfall in the out years of FY2011-12 and FY2012-13 of $679.5 million, unlike states like California, and still balance our budget.
This leads me to a few questions for you the taxpayer, questions that will need to be discussed before next session. What is the role of state government and how should that form the spending priorities of the state? What wants or well-intended programs that may not be needed or necessary should we look at reducing or cutting? These are questions every well-managed household has to answer regarding their personal budgets at home, we should expect no less from our state government.
Over this interim between sessions, let me know what you believe should be state spending priorities, those agencies and services that should be protected. Moreover, if you have ideas for potential savings, contact me with your ideas so we can work together to make our state government better serve the people of Nebraska.
I do not believe this is a time to worry about the economic future, but see this as an opportunity to make our state and local governments smaller, leaner, and more focused and sustainable into the future.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding these bills, or any other issue, please call my office at (402) 471-2805 or for more information you can view my legislative website at http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist44/.