Nebraska legislature overrides budget vetoes including prison programs, MoPac trail

Nebraska State Capitol
Nebraska State Capitol(MGN)
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 3:27 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2022 at 4:28 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska state senators on Thursday voted to override Gov. Pete Ricketts’ line-item vetoes on three budget bills.

LB-1011: Approved on a 42-3-4 vote, which was more than the 38-4-7 when it was given to the governor before his veto. The governor vetoed $51.8 million in that bill which included money for four programs within HHS: Behavioral Health Aid, Child Welfare Aid, Developmental Disability Aid, and Medicaid. Also two programs under the Nebraska Supreme Court: Juvenile Justice and Probation Community Corrections.

LB-1012: Approved on a 42-3-4 vote, which was more than the 34-6-9 when it was given to the governor before his veto. This transfers funds from Prison Overcrowding Contingency Fund to the Vocational and Life Skills Programming Fund. The line-item veto eliminated the transfer of $14 million from the Governor’s Emergency Cash Fund to the Cash Reserve Fund to help hospitals through the pandemic. Gov. Ricketts said there was adequate funding from the CARES Act. He had also eliminated $15 million transfer from Prison Overcrowding Contingency Fund to Vocational and Life Skills Programming Fund. Also, $4.8 million had been eliminated for community apprenticeship and restorative justice programs.

LB-1013: Approved on a 41-5-3 vote, which was more than the 33-5-11 when it was given to the governor before his veto. The governor’s line-item veto slashed half of $8.3 million that will be used to complete the MoPac trail, a bike trail that will eventually connect Omaha and Lincoln. Gov. Ricketts had said private funding must be part of the solution to balance taxpayer dollars.

In issuing his line-item vetoes Monday, Ricketts said:

“The budget items contained in these bills raise General Fund appropriations for FY 2022-23 by 5.9 percent. It’s important that we strike the appropriate balance between calibrating government spending and returning excess revenue back to the people. That is how we responsibly steward taxpayer money. With that in mind, I’ve chosen to line-item veto certain spending items that will allow tax relief to succeed.”

The Nebraska State Chamber applauded the Unicameral efforts.

“A dynamic, growing economy with lots to do and cutting-edge job opportunities is critical to attracting and retaining more people in Nebraska, especially our talented, young generations entering the workforce,” Chamber President Bryan Slone said. “You get less of what you tax, and Nebraskans need more right now – more in their pockets to support their families, more private investment, more innovation, more high-tech jobs. We appreciate the work of our state leaders in helping us build a game-changing strategy for growth.”

Also on Thursday, state senators passed LB-917 with a 46-0-2 vote. It provides an incentive for businesses to hire convicted felons. However, a late amendment was introduced by State Sen. Justine Wayne of Omaha. He called it a strange request that some members of the business community came to him. They told him that giving them a tax credit of 25% of the wages paid by the employer was too much. So, the late amendment was passed that reduced it to 10%. After the amendment was approved, it advanced on a voice vote to final reading.

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