HEADLINES : Nebraska
Angst building for some over balancing next budget
While Republican Gov. Dave Heineman trumpets his tax-cut plan just approved by lawmakers as a way to give working Nebraskans more money in their pockets, many people worry about how the state is going to pay for it without making cuts to critical programs and services.
"Even if the economy continues to improve, it's incredibly unlikely that it would expand enough to cover the ... shortfall Nebraska is facing next year," said Renee Fry, executive director the OpenSky Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.
Lawmakers convene in January to begin crafting a two-year state budget facing a $619 million shortfall. Adding to the task is a new law going into effect next year that earmarks some sales tax money that once went in the state's general fund for road-building projects.
"Next January ... you are going to be begging and pleading and scratching and clawing for every dime," Omaha Sen. Burke Harr warned his colleagues during floor debate on Heineman's tax plan (LB970). "We don't have the money."
Heineman's plan originally would have cost $327 million over three years. It was pared to $148 million and then to $97 million. The amended plan axed a proposed reduction in corporate income tax rates and jettisoned the governor's plan to eliminate inheritance taxes, which are paid to Nebraska's 93 counties and amount to as much as $48 million a year.