Hours after receiving it, Nebraska lawmakers get to work on budget
As debate begins, several state senators question why they didn’t get a copy of the massive document sooner.
LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska state senators began debating the annual budget on Wednesday — mere hours after receiving a copy of the 181-page document.
With 19 days left in the session, a number of senators were pushing back and asking the question: How is it that we’re debating a budget after only getting a copy of it yesterday?
As it’s one of the constitutional responsibilities of Nebraska state senators to pass a budget that runs from this summer to next, many were wondering why they didn’t get a copy of the 181-page document sooner.
After starting to break down the numbers, it didn’t take long for several in the Unicameral to raise their concerns.
The budget day began with an impassioned plea from Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne. He scaled back his priority bill from $25 million to $5 million with the goal of getting to the clinical core of young people dealing with gun violence and the post-traumatic stress that often comes with the environment.
He and State Sen. Terrell McKinney of Omaha hammered on the body for not doing the hard work of criminal justice reform. McKinney also took his colleagues to task for their eagerness to build prisoners rather than reform the system that made them overcrowded.
The proposed budget includes money to build a replacement prison for the aging state penitentiary. But a recent independent report concluded that it will be full before you know it; and that without sentencing and probation reform, Nebraska would need to build another prison.
Other senators, however, reminded lawmakers that the hours of debate going on Wednesday about the budget from different voices didn’t happen for last year’s budget.
In the afternoon, state senators were discussing why the appropriations committee was cutting into a pool of money set aside for cash assistance to poor people to fund other things when the programs typically call for that to come from the General Fund.
Later, the body advanced Wayne’s amendment to help young people dealing with the PTSD of gun violence to the second round.
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