State budget approved

Lawmakers gave final approval April 20 to the state’s $9.7 billion budget package.

The package includes a number of appropriations and transfers to address the state’s prison overcrowding situation, including $100 million in general funds to the Nebraska Capital Construction Fund, to be available for the Legislature to appropriate for a new state prison should one be deemed necessary in the future.

It also appropriates $14.9 million to fund the preparation of designs for a possible new facility, including site selection and an option to purchase, as well as completion of an independent engineering study regarding the useful life of the current Nebraska State Penitentiary.

The package provides $15 million to the Prison Overcrowding Contingency Fund and $200,000 to contract with the University of Nebraska to study inmate classification within the state Department of Correctional Services.

Among the budget components passed was LB380, the mainline budget bill, which funds state government for the next two fiscal years. The bill was introduced by Speaker Mike Hilgers on behalf of the governor and contains provisions of several other bills, including:
LB141, sponsored by Gering Sen. John Stinner, which appropriates $7.5 million in fiscal year 2022-23 to the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney;
LB391, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Eliot Bostar, which appropriates $2.5 million in FY2021-22 to the Customized Job Training Cash Fund;
LB493, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, which appropriates $1 million in each fiscal year of the biennium to the state’s developmental disability wait list; and
LB585, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas, which appropriates $1.5 million in FY2021-22 and $3 million in FY2022-23 to local public health departments.

The bill passed on a 47-0 vote.

Additional budget measures approved were:
LB379, passed 47-0, which adjusts funding for state operations, aid and construction programs in the current fiscal year;
LB381, passed 46-0, which provides for the $12,000 annual salaries of Nebraska’s 49 state senators;
LB382, passed 46-0, which funds salaries and benefits for judges and constitutional officers;
LB383, passed 38-2, which appropriates funds for capital construction;
LB384, passed 41-0, which transfers funds and changes the permitted use of a fund;
LB385, passed 44-0, which makes a number of fund transfers to and from the state’s Cash Reserve Fund; and
LB666, passed 45-0, which provides for payment of claims against the state and agency write-offs for uncollectible debts.

The governor has five calendar days, excluding Sunday, to sign, veto or line-item veto appropriations within the budget bills.

If budget bills are returned to the Legislature with line-item vetoes, the Appropriations Committee must report on the fiscal impact of the vetoes within one day and may offer a motion to override any or all of them. Thirty votes are required to override a veto.

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