Ricketts trims some spending with line-item budget vetoes

Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 11:04 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday trimmed $51.8 million in spending from the new state budget that lawmakers sent him last week before signing the rest of the package into law.

Ricketts, a Republican, announced that he had reduced funding for several initiatives using his line-item veto power, which lets governors change specific parts of the state budget passed by lawmakers while keeping the rest intact.

All three bills, LB 1011, LB 1012, and LB 1013, were introduced by Speaker Sen. Mike Hilgers. Two of the bills, LB 1011 and LB 1013, have both failed recently in the legislature.

“My vetoes will ensure that Nebraska is poised to provide top-notch government services while keeping tax relief a possibility. In total, these reductions cut the General Fund appropriation growth by $51.8 million and limit the growth of State expenditures to 4.8% in FY 2022-23.”

Press release from the Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Ricketts said he cut $51.8 million in general-fund spending increases for providers of behavioral health, child welfare, and other services. Instead of a 15% increase approved by lawmakers, providers would get a 5% raise.

He also struck $14.8 million in increased costs for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning upgrades at the state Capitol, but allowed a $10.5 million increase to account for supply chain disruptions.

Ricketts cut in half the $8.3 million approved for bike trail work and blocked a $15 million transfer from a prison overcrowding fund to a vocational life skills program fund, saying the transfer would have drawn from money set aside to build a new state prison.

He also eliminated $20 million for an affordable workforce housing program but kept $40 million for current needs.

“The budget items contained in these bills raise General Fund appropriations for FY 2022-23 by 5.9%. It’s important that we strike the appropriate balance between calibrating government spending and returning excess revenue back to the people,” wrote Gov. Ricketts in his message to state senators. “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.”

Read Gov. Ricketts’ signing statement and veto message

6 News Staff reports contributed to this story.

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