Line-item vetoes delivered

Gov. Jim Pillen sent a message to lawmakers May 24 announcing millions in line-item vetoes to a variety of programs and proposals contained in two components of the state budget package passed last week.

The governor said the cuts are meant to ensure that funds are available for “transformative tax relief” while still providing quality services to the state’s residents.

“We must continue to fight against excessive governmental spending to deliver dollars back into the pockets of Nebraskans,” Pillen said.

Among the governor’s cuts to LB814, the mainline budget bill, were $15.3 million in general fund appropriations for Medicaid reimbursement rates and $6 million for child welfare provider rate increases.

Pillen said the state’s hospitals have seen “record profits” in recent years and that increasing reimbursement rates would not address systemic workforce shortages.

Other general fund appropriations vetoed were:
• $107,250 to the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for a full-time sign language interpreter;
• $470,000 to the Nebraska State Historical Society;
• $500,000 to expand the state’s court appointed special advocate program;
• $510,700 to the attorney general’s office for interstate water litigation and a trial preparation coordinator position;
• $848,700 for a new state auditor position and salary increases;
• $1.8 million for the expansion of home visitation care;
• $1 million for a facility to house pregnant and parenting homeless youth;
• $1.9 million in funding to the state Supreme Court;
• $2.2 million for legislative branch salary increases; and
• $7 million to the state Department of Environment and Energy for grants to support a rural drinking water project in Cedar and Knox counties.

Pillen also vetoed $40 million in cash fund transfers from LB818 to the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Fund and the Middle Income Housing Investment Fund. The state has invested more than $200 million in affordable housing over the last three years, he said, which developers are leveraging to build up the state’s affordable housing supply.

Other cash transfers vetoed were:
• $20 million from the Shovel Ready Capital Recovery and Investment Act;
• $10 million to the Site and Building Development Fund for a ground-based nuclear deterrence project near Kimball; and
• $10 million from the Nebraska Health Care Cash Fund for a pilot program on PTSD related to gun violence.

Pillen said his vetoes would save $94.2 million in general funds, $10 million from the Health Care Cash fund and $87 million from the state’s Cash Reserve Fund over the next four years.

“We must cut government spending, we must cut government red tape and we must lead the charge in investing in our next generation,” Pillen said.

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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