|Budget debate underway this week|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Wednesday, 12 March 2014 20:36|
Letter Back Home
By Sen. Mark Christensen
The Appropriations Committee of the Nebraska Legislature has revealed its recommendations for adjustments to the biennial budget. The Legislature began debate on the budget adjustments starting Monday, March 10. I would like to highlight some of these adjustments.
The increases for General Fund revenue are projected at 4.3 percent for fiscal year 2013-14 and 4.5 percent for fiscal year 2014-15, averaging 4.4 percent. This average is lower than the historical 5 percent average, and the 7.2 percent average of the last three years.
Property tax relief has been proposed to increase by $25 million, which would raise the current $115 million to $140 million. This would translate to a credit of about $74 per $100,000 of valuation for 2014 and $65.97 for the current year. It would only be a credit of $61 per $100,000 valuation if the amount of relief stayed at $115 million.
One of the larger proposed expenditures would be for water projects throughout the state. The current recommendation is $31 million, which has resulted from the work in the Water Funding Task Force created last session. That total would include a $10.5 million General Fund increase to the Resource Development Fund. Moreover, it would include $21 million to the new Water Sustainability Fund, $10 million of which would be a one-time expenditure from the Cash Reserve Fund.
Another provision of the committee’s recommendations is funding for the Game and Parks Commission. Three bills, LB 873, LB 874 and LB 1033, had provisions put together for a total of $15 million from the cash reserve fund and $2.5 million transfer from the Recreation Road Fund for deferred maintenance and improvements for parks throughout the state.
School funding is set at $899.2 million in the committee recommendations. It will take $880.5 million from the General Fund and $19.4 million from the Insurance Premium Tax. Though this is $40 million dollars less than the current projected spending, LB 725, on Final Reading, would restore $33 million by lowering the Local Effort Rate to $1.00.
The last budget highlight I want to mention is proposed spending for improvements to the state capitol building. A transfer of $14.5 million from the Cash Reserve to the Nebraska Capital Construction Fund would include $2.5 million for four courtyard fountains originally planned at the time of the capitol’s construction and $11.7 million for the first three years of a 10-year plan to replace the capitol’s HVAC system. The following years of the HVAC replacement would be funded from the General Fund.