State budget package passed

Lawmakers gave final approval this week to the seven components of the state’s $10.7 billion, two-year budget package following successful cloture votes.

Sen. Robert Clements
Sen. Robert Clements

Among the measures passed May 17 was LB813, which makes adjustments to funding for state operations, aid and construction programs in the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2023.

Lawmakers rejected a number of attempts to return the bills to select file for amendments and other procedural motions offered by Omaha Sens. Machaela Cavanaugh and Megan Hunt to extend discussion on the measures.

After two hours of debate and a successful cloture motion, which ends debate and forces a vote on the bill, senators voted 44-2 to pass LB813.

Following additional successful cloture motions, senators also passed the following bills May 17:
• LB816, which appropriates funds for the salaries of the state’s constitutional officers, on a 44-2 vote;
• LB815, which appropriates funds for the $12,000 annual salaries of state senators, on a 45-1 vote; and
• LB799, which changes judges’ salaries, judgeships in county courts and the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court and provisions relating to the Nebraska Supreme Court and the University of Nebraska College of Law, on a 40-0 vote.

Senators passed the final three components of the budget package May 18.

LB814, passed 42-3, is the mainline budget bill and contains funding for state aid and operations. Among other provisions, the measure authorizes $335 million for a new state prison and $8.5 million to increase reimbursement rates for child welfare service providers.

LB818, passed 41-3, authorizes new fund transfers and changes and eliminates provisions regarding existing fund transfers. The bill includes a transfer of $574.5 million from the Cash Reserve to the Perkins County Canal Project Fund to be administered by the state Department of Natural Resources for a canal to divert South Platte River water from Colorado to Nebraska.

The measure also transfers $1 billion from the state General Fund to the newly created Education Future Fund and states legislative intent to transfer $250 million annually going forward. It also places study and reporting requirements on the transfer from the state’s Cash Reserve to the state Department of Correctional Services for a new state prison.

Under the provisions of LB818, the state’s cash reserve balance will be approximately $780 million.

Finally, LB282, which approves approximately $27 million in tort claims against the state and agency write-offs, passed on a 42-0 vote.

All of the measures took effect immediately upon passage.

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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