Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman says he's spent the lastfive days with staff pouring over the Legislature's changes to the statebudget.
He's sending the three bills back with his signature, butonly after cutting line-items from each one. The line-item vetoes total $65.3 million.
Heineman says some of those items are unnecessary, whileothers are inappropriate for a mid-budget adjustment – instead, they would bebetter to dicuss next year when the next biennium budget work gets underway.
He is calling on the Legislature for action now – saying they should introducean amendment that funnels $25 million of that savings he created into theProperty Tax Credit Fund.
"I've given them back the money to do this one, and practically every singleone of them ran for Legislature saying, I'll do something about property taxrelief, and they're going to have an opportunity in the next ten days," saysHeineman.
But where would the $25 million come from? Heineman vetoed two State Capitol building projects: $11.7 million forheating and air renovations, and $2.5 million for courtyard fountains.
He also dropped a $10 million transfer he says the Departmentof Economic Development didn't request and doesn't need.
The Supreme Court also lost out on $7.4 million, with statebudget officials saying that office is on track to underspend their currentbudget by $8 million.
"The Legislature has allowed that agency to transfer its appropriations betweenbudget programs within it, so they've got an incredible amount of flexibilityto address any spending needs that might occur," says State Budget Director GerryOligmueller.
Heineman is praising the Legislature for Water Sustainability, Game and ParksCommission, Developmental Disability Aid Program, and Early ChildhoodFunding. He says he agrees with many oftheir spending decisions, including dollars on prisons.
"I think that was one where we were in total agreement – theamount we requested, they approved," says Heineman.
Heineman says the money he's trying to save could go unused,but he plans to keep pushing for that tax relief.
"I would love to put more in there, okay, and I'm willing tosuggest additional ways to add even more if they would listen, but a good startwould be the $25 million," he says.
Also cut by Heineman was $250,000 from the Department ofEducation. The request was to contractfor a pilot project, and listed a specific vendor, something the governor saysis unconstitutional.
Click HERE to view Heineman's list of vetoes, and the letters he sent toLegislative officials outlining the reasons why.