Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (R) today laid out his plan to fix the state’s budget which is reeling from the recession.
On Wednesday state lawmakers will return to Lincoln for a special session of the legislature aimed at filling a $336 million budget hole caused by shrinking sales tax receipts.
Among the Governor’s budget cuts are a 2.5% across-the-board reduction to most state agencies this fiscal year and a 5% reduction in fiscal year 2010-2011. Those cuts total $80 million.
Another $154 million will be taken from K-12 education, Medicaid, the state prison system and the State Patrol. But according to Heineman schools are not being cut. Heineman said budget increases planned for next year would be frozen.
In neighboring Iowa, Governor Chet Culver (D) recently cut his state agencies by $520 million. Culver also cut his own pay by 10%. Heineman told Nebraska Watchdog’s Joe Jordan that the Governor’s office budget will be cut but the Governor’s salary will not be.
The Governor said he will oppose any attempt to increase income or sales taxes. Heineman also said he is opposed to dipping any further into the state’s cash reserve fund also known as the “rainy day” fund. According to the Governor $250 million of the reserve is being used to balance the current budget. Heineman said, “Further use of the cash reserve now will only make any future financial challenges more difficult.”
Other cuts in the Governor’s budget include the University of Nebraska which would lose 1.8% this fiscal year and 3.4% next year. Some state operations would not be cut including the Beatrice State Development Center where several patients died earlier this year. Heineman says he also wants to keep full funding for services to individuals on the Developmental Disabilities waiting list.
The final $37 million budget fix comes from several cash funds that would be transferred into the general fund. Those include the Job Training and Tobacco Products Cash Funds.
The Iowa cuts included 180 layoffs and furloughs for over 3,200 state workers.
Reported by Joe Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org