It was another big week in the Nebraska Legislature and with less than twenty days remaining until Sine Die adjournment, senators are starting to feel the pace quicken as the clock continues to run. While it has been rumored the Unicameral will adjourn prior to Memorial Day weekend, there are still dozens of priority bills left to be debated.
View Agenda for Week of the 3rd
Earlier last week, Gov. Ricketts signed the $9.7 billion biennial budget without any vetoes. Gov. Ricketts called for more tax relief as a priority for the Legislature and highlighted the minimal growth in average spending with the two-year budget package, which was at 1.7 percent. In other spending news, the Legislature spent much of the week debating Revenue Committee priority bills, some of which failed to advance due to concerns of obligating too many general fund dollars into the out-years. Additionally, the body advanced LB 64, which would phase out the taxation of social security benefits over a ten-year period, growing incrementally until 2030 when no taxes on social security would be collected.
Below is the weekly update Speaker Hilgers sent to his colleagues outlining the plan for this week's agenda. After the week's debate, Speaker Hilgers indicated he will evaluate the progress they have made and make an announcement soon on the timeline for the remainder of May. You will see LB 256 on the agenda for Tuesday. This is legislation which removes the need to submit a settlement for approval from the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court for lump-sum payments if future health care services are not a part of the settlement. It has been worked on for a number of years by Nebraskans for Workers' Compensation Equity and Fairness.
View Hilgers' Memo
On Wednesday they will be discussing LR 11CA which requires a consumption tax for all goods and services purchased and prohibits all other taxes like property, sales and income. It won't pass, but it renews the discussion regarding a tax on services like those performed by Big I members.
Click to see Priority Bill Listing
Last Thursday, the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board met to discuss regional economic trends and to adjust the certified revenue forecast, which was last discussed during its late-February meeting. The meeting lasted nearly two hours and discussions took into consideration inflation, federal stimulus dollars, unemployment projections and the strong economy through the pandemic. Ultimately, the board voted to approve the following:
- FY20-21: $90M increase from forecast (fiscal year to end June 30, 2021)
- FY21-22: $5M decrease from current forecast
- FY22-23: no change
The board will meet again in October to adjust their revenue projections. In the meantime, the additional $90M above projections will be moved into the cash reserve before a portion of it is transferred into the LB 1107 property tax credit program. The remaining funds ($38M) will be moved to the floor and available for spending proposals like corporate income tax parity, a phase out of social security, and broadband grants. With the passage of the next biennial budget earlier this week, the additional funds identified in the forecast will increase unobligated revenues to nearly $245M for this session.
Click here to access all the bills