This past week was the last full week of session for the legislature of this 90 day session. The focus of debate the last few days included finishing up discussion on some Senator Priority Bills as well as discussing the budget and possible gubernatorial veto overrides.
The Governor vetoed a total of 56.5 million in spending from the state budget. On Friday, May 12 the Governor returned LB330e to the Legislature with his signature and with a line-item reduction to delay Capitol renovation funding that is not immediately needed in the amount of 11.06 million. LB327e and LB331e were returned by the Governor on Monday, May 15 with his signature and line-item reductions.
Those reductions reduce various state agency appropriations by half of a percent (.5 percent). Some programs and agencies were excluded, including those already reduced by 3 percent or more. The budget after line-item vetoes protects the property tax credit relief fund, corrections reform, public safety and state aid to K-12 schools.
The legislature discussed veto override motions for particular line-item veto provisions on Wednesday, May 17. The veto override motions included restoring the original budget appropriated funds for probation services, behavioral health aid, medical assistance, developmental disability aid, child welfare, and the University of Nebraska.
No veto-override motions were adopted and the budget remained as adjusted and signed by the Governor. I did not support the veto overrides after conversations with various Department Officials provided assurances that line-item vetoes of certain funding for divisions such as Medicaid, Developmental Disabilities, Behavioral Health, and Children and Family Services would not mean providers or contractors will receive across-the-board rate reductions. These divisions manage such programs within their appropriations and stated they will work to minimize any adverse access to service issues for families as well as utilizing other cost-savings approaches and programs to off-set and absorb those cuts in other manners and balance any funding concerns.
Given the state’s current revenue picture and low future projections I feel we as a legislature and state have a duty to be fiscally responsible to ensure the financial stability of our state. I was not supportive of lowering the cash reserve funds from 3 percent down to 2.5 and feel confident that with the changes made to bring that fund back to 3 percent it will provide more security for all Nebraskans going forward.
As we wrap up this 2017 Legislative Session I would like to thank the individuals of District 23 for giving me an opportunity to serve our District and our State at the Legislature and I look forward continuing to work for and with you as we work on issues and legislation over the interim and into next session. My office remains open over the interim and I continue to welcome constituent input about issues affecting Nebraska and District 23.
Memorial Day is approaching us on Monday, May 29 and is a day for remembrance of those who have died in service to this great nation. There will be many services held across the state at local memorials and cemeteries, I would encourage you to attend one of these services to remember those who have gone before us and the sacrifices they made. I want to wish everyone in the District a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend.
State Senator Bruce Bostelman represents the 23rd District in the Nebraska Legislature.