Budget Debate

Last week, the Legislature debated the budget for 2023-2024. The Appropriations Committee, which is tasked with making the budget, has worked hard to introduce a budget that benefits the entire state. I thank them for all of their hard work. With this said, I would like to highlight some proposals that would benefit all Nebraskans.

Provisions of Senator Clements’ LB 681 are included in the proposed budget, which would establish a $1 billion Education Future Fund to transfer $1 billion in fiscal year of 2023-2024 to the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) in fiscal year of 2023-24 into the newly created Education Future Fund, and $250 million each year after. To recap, LB 681 is intended to be spent by increasing educational funding, and increasing school funding and grant programs, such as teacher retention by addressing teacher turnover rates and by fighting to keep existing teachers in classrooms. Moreover, it will increase educational opportunities for students to gain the skills, knowledge, and training necessary to succeed in future careers. This will provide much-needed support for education in not only our entire state but rural communities as well.

The proposed budget also includes funding to construct the Perkins County Canal. With a growing population and irrigation use caused by droughts in both Colorado and Nebraska, water demand is increasing. In response, Colorado has responded to this two-year water shortage by maximizing its use of the South Platte River. The Nebraska legislature passed LB 1015 in April of 2022, which proposes the construction of a canal that would divert South Platte River water from Colorado to Nebraska with the hopes to conserve the amount of water traveling through our state.

Also, included in the budget is $5 million of funds to address the provisions of Senator Brewer’s LB 511, a bill that would grant money to the Nebraska Public Safety Communication System Revolving Fund, which in turn will be used to buy portable and mobile radios, program them, and install them in volunteer departments.

The budget is incredibly important as Nebraska’s budget reflects our state’s priorities; I encourage you to analyze it or stay tuned to debate so you can see where resources are being allocated. Increased funding for education and infrastructure shows a focus on equal opportunities and economic growth and development. Our budget also shows investments in public safety, environment/water conservation, and others. Prioritizing all of these needs is important to ensure that all Nebraskans can continue to thrive.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

error: Content is protected !!