Budget package approved

Lawmakers gave final approval March 27 to four bills comprising the Legislature’s mid-biennium budget adjustment package.

LB968, introduced by Norfolk Sen. Mike Flood on behalf of the governor, provides for deficit appropriations and passed on a 45-2 vote.

Among the significant appropriations outlined in the bill are:
• $17 million to the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to cover shortfalls due to developments in the child welfare reform effort and to reduce caseloads;
• $10 million to state aid to K-12 special education;
• $9.7 million to reinstate 1.5 percent of a 2.5 percent cut in Medicaid provider rates for the upcoming fiscal year;
• $6.1 million to fund the design and construction of a veterinary diagnostic center at the University of Nebraska; and
• $4 million to reduce the state’s developmental disability waiting list.

LB969, also introduced by Flood at the request of the governor and passed on a 44-3 vote, authorizes various fund transfers.

LB131, introduced by Elk Creek Sen. Lavon Heidemann, makes transfers from the state’s cash reserve, including:
• $50 million for a cancer research center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha;
• $15 million for the UNMC College of Nursing and School of Allied Health Professions at the University of Nebraska in Kearney;
• $7.5 million for improvements to the Oak Bowl at Peru State College;
• $6.7 million for renovation of the Armstrong Gymnasium at Chadron State College; and
• $800,000 for the Centennial Mall renovation project in Lincoln.

The bill passed on a 43-1 vote.

Finally, LB1072, introduced by the Business and Labor Committee, approves claims exceeding $50,000 authorized by the state claims board, including:
• $2.5 million in denied claims made by subcontractors of Boys and Girls Home – a former lead contract agency with DHHS;
• $495,000 in tort claims; and
• $275,000 in miscellaneous claims.

The bill also includes $3.9 million in write-offs for fiscal year 2010-11. LB1072 passed on a 42-4 vote.

The governor must sign, veto or line-item veto the budget within five calendar days, excluding Sunday.

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