Ricketts Signs Budget Bills With 6 Line-Item Vetoes

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       Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has signed the 3 bills adjusting the state budget passed last year, but not before issuing 6 line-item vetoes that cut general fund spending by $51.8 million dollars and the budget increase from 5.9% to 4.8%. 

      Ricketts said in a news release that the vetoes “will ensure that Nebraska is poised to provide top-notch government services while keeping tax relief a possibility.”

     All the general fund reduction came from the veto that slashed a 15% increase in payments to social services providers to 5%, which the governor called enough.

     Ricketts said “it’s important that we strike the appropriate balance between calibrating government spending and returning excess revenue back to the people – this is how we responsibly steward taxpayer money.”

      A number of senators criticized the move. Appropriations Chair John Stinner of Gering said he was “very, very disappointed” since the only general fund increases in the revised budget were for provider rates.

     Stinner said nursing homes in the state are closing because of financial problems made worse by the pandemic and that it will be hard for him to support Ricketts’ push for income tax cuts on the back of provider rates.

     Other line-item vetoes included a $14.8-million increase in costs for a major HVAC project at the Capitol, $20-million of a transfer from the cash fund to Affordable Workforce Housing, and half of the $8.3-million to finish a trail from Lincoln to Omaha

      The governor also cut a $15-million dollar transfer from the Prison Overcrowding Contingency Fund to the Vocational Life Skills Program Fund, saying the money needs to remain set aside for helping pay for a new prison to replace the State Penitentiary.

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