Legislative leaders see a lot to like in Gov. Ricketts’ proposals

January 18, 2019

LINCOLN - Legislative leaders see much promise in the agenda Gov. Pete Ricketts outlined in his State of the State address.

Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk is pleased the governor’s proposed budget funds public schools and adds money to Medicaid reimbursements and that the governor got to the point.

“As the governor was leaving, we shook hands. He just looked at me and said, ‘Well, it’s my shortest one yet.’ And so, I guess he’s learning that brevity is the best and, so, I commend him on keeping it short, simple, and sweet,” Scheer tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Scheer says Ricketts gave legislators a good starting point on property tax relief by proposing an additional $102 million to the property tax relief fund over the next two fiscal years. As for the absence of a major property tax relief package, Scheer points out lawmakers saw five separate proposals surface at the end of the last session, with none gaining enough support to pass. He says it appears the governor is waiting to see if any one proposal can attract consensus.

Appropriations Committee chair, Sen. John Stinner of Scottsbluff, wishes the governor proposed a bigger increase for cash reserves. The state cash reserve fund currently stands at approximately $333 million. The governor proposes rebuilding it to slightly under $350 million. Stinner would like to see it at $500 million, at a minimum.

Now that the governor has submitted his proposed budget, Stinner says his committee is ready to dig into the details.

“I think the governor touched a lot of bases and there are a lot of things in the budget that we’re going to have to go through and take a look at,” Stinner tells Nebraska Radio Network.

There will be a long process ahead.

“Long process ahead,” Stinner agrees. “This is the start, yes.”

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