Wednesday, September 20, 2017
   
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Capitol Update from Sen. Matt WilliamsA

Greetings District 36. Budget, budget, and more budget. The last week in the Nebraska Legislature was dominated with discussions about our state’s budget. It is the responsibility of the Legislature to adopt a balanced budget every two years. This is a difficult and tedious task during normal times and this year is certainly not normal.

During the past year the actual revenue received by the state has been lower than projected. Therefore, the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Board is projecting lower revenues for the upcoming biennium. The projected budget shortfall can be attributed to a revenue growth of .8% over the next two years compared to the historical average revenue growth of 5.1%. If the projections become reality, it will be the third lowest back to back revenue growth over the past 36 years. The bottom line is the projections have lowered revenues and created a shortfall of over $1 billion in a $9 billion budget!

 

The proposed budget uses a combination of spending cuts, reallocations, and the use of the cash reserves to achieve a balanced budget. I’ve said many times that each Senator has their own priorities. In general, the proposed budget maintains current funding levels for K-12 education, Department of Corrections, and the property tax relief fund which are priorities for me. On the other hand, to achieve a balanced budget many areas of funding are reduced. When we cut budgets we affect people. These are difficult decisions. At the end of the day we will have to compromise and end up with a budget that leads us to the best results possible.

 

I’m pleased that a bill I introduced, LB518, was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Ricketts. Businesses and economic development professionals across the state have identified the lack of housing as one of the primary barriers to economic growth in rural areas. In many communities, we have jobs available but we lack the housing that prospective employees desire. LB518 addresses this issue by creating grants to stimulate the development of workforce housing in rural areas of our state. I’m optimistic that LB518 will help nurses, teachers, and other skilled workers to take a job in rural Nebraska because there are quality housing options available to them. Not only will this create additional opportunities for economic growth, LB518 will improve the quality of life for Nebraskans in rural areas.

We will put the finishing touches on this legislative session by the end of May. Much work remains. I would ask that you keep the Senators and the Governor in your thoughts and prayers as we consider the important issues facing our state. Please contact at (402) 471-2642 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you have any comments or questions.

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