The Legislature’s proposed 2-year $9.7 billion budget advanced to Select File last Friday. The Unicameral Update Page does an excellent job in summary.
General File Floor debate can be like watching a mother goose protect her goslings. Picture Appropriations Committee Chair John Stinner (Gering) fending off senators with his DAD VOICE before picking off vulnerable cash funds. No, the debate wasn’t always collegial. Some folks raised their voices, and at times, emotions ran frighteningly high. All for naught.
The Committee budget remains whole. However, for actual entertainment value, you can’t beat the symbolic removal of a rogue senator’s knees in attempting to reappropriate millions of dollars. Not only because it’s humiliating, but it’s also in public…on television…on social media, and in front of Mom and Dad.
The Rainy Day Fund (cash reserve) increases to a very respectable $733 million. After all the cussing and discussing, $211 million remains up for grabs to fund marvelous new legislative initiatives.
Governor Ricketts’ $230 million, five-year proposal dealing with overcrowding at the aging State Pen advanced to Select File. The plan begins with a $14.9 million design, study, and securing land options between Omaha and Lincoln. That would be where an available workforce lives!
A real highlight of the budget process is when senators approve their $12,000 a year salary. Two unoriginal thoughts:
- 1) You get what you pay for.
- 2) They know the pay before running for office.
In response: Number one is stupid. Number two, thank goodness most of them don’t care.
- LB59 (Stinner) SUPPORT – Amends the Nebraska Tourism Commission’s powers to allow the Commission to engage directly with retailers to sell tourism promotional products. It further provides that retailers who pay in full for merchandise have no further reporting requirements to the Commission. The bill also harmonizes a section of the statute governing the handling of sales revenue received by the Commission and in a section of statute describing the Commission’s powers.
- LB258 (Vargas) (M. Hansen Priority) MONITOR – Requires employers with four or more employees to provide access to paid sick and safe leave.
- LB432 (Revenue Committee Priority Bill) – MONITOR – Income tax shell bill.
- AM774 Amends LB680 into LB432:
- LB680 (Linehan) Beginning 2022, the corporate income tax rate for taxable income in excess of $100,000 will be reduced from 7.81% to 6.84% The new rate match the top individual income tax rate.
- LR11CA (Erdman Priority Resolution) MONITOR – A resolution for a constitutional amendment and consumption tax. Changes the way taxes are collected, replaces the income tax, the sales tax, the property tax, and the inheritance tax with a consumption tax, directs the Legislature to enact a consumption tax.
Held In Committee
- LB52 (Lathrop) MONITOR – Provides immunity from injury or death resulting from COVID-19 exposure.
- LB79 (Briese) MONITOR – Change the minimum amount of relief provided under the Property Tax Credit Act.
- LB122 (Hunt) OPPOSE – Eliminates the tipped minimum wage of $2.13 plus tips. Tipped workers would be paid the state minimum wage of $9.00 an hour.
- LB133 (Erdman) MONITOR – Adopts a consumption tax.
- LB139 (Briese) (Slama Priority) SUPPORT – Adopts the COVID-19 Liability Protection Act.
- LB290 (M.Cavanaugh) OPPOSE – Adopts the Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance Act.
- LB422 (Briese) MONITOR – Reduces sales tax rate from 5.5% to 5% and eliminates some sales tax exemptions.