|Nebraska Legislature begins budget debates|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Thursday, 07 May 2015 20:52|
By Dan Hughes
Nebraska State Senator - 44th District
The Nebraska Legislature began debating the biennial budget last week. The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee proposed budget stayed within a 3.1 percent growth rate. This was the third lowest growth rate in the last 15 budgets (30 years), only 2003 and 2009 had a lower growth rate. Over the past 33 years the historical growth rate has been around 5 percent. I am pleased that the appropriations committee realized that we must be prudent with the people’s money.
The committee proposed an increase of 2.4 percent to TEEOSA, the school financing formula, and that was one of the lowest growth rates in years. This budget is lower due to an increase in ag land values. Last year TEEOSA had a 5 ½ percent increase in growth rate. The University of Nebraska and state colleges received a 3 percent increase. Included in the budget is more money appropriated to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund, which would bring the total to around $200 million each budget year. This will put more money back into our taxpayers’ hands.
You can find a copy of the budget on the legislature’s web site. www.nebraskalegislature.gov.
The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board (NEFAB) is charged with creating an advisory forecast of general fund receipts that the legislature uses to create our state’s budget. It is made up of nine members, five members appointed by the legislature and four appointed by the Governor.
The members must have expertise in economics, economic forecasting or tax policy. They meet three times a year. When they met in February, the board said the revenue projection will be $9 billion for fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. They met on Thursday, April 30 to provide the latest forecast, which the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee will use to determine our state budget. During that meeting, they determined the projection would raise $10 million, which was very good news.
The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee met on Friday and determined they will put about $8 million of the extra projection into the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund.
One of the bills that the legislature has spent time debating recently is LB 72, introduced by Senator Schumacher. It would require that the Department of Health and Human Services is notified when a trust could be responsible for repayment of Medicaid services utilized by the trustor.
Also, it would prohibit a trustee from transferring property from revocable trusts that become irrevocable due to the death of the trustor prior to the satisfaction of the Medicaid expense recovery. If passed, this bill could potentially result in an increase in recovering Medicaid monies.