Gov. Ricketts makes no vetoes on budget bills before signing adjustments into law

LINCOLN — The day after the Nebraska Legislature delivered him the measures, Gov. Pete Ricketts signed three budget bills into law Wednesday.

Ricketts said the budget adjustments in Legislative Bills 944, 945 and 946 will help further control state spending. The Governor’s Office said no vetoes were made on the bills.

“Additionally, these bills contain important new budget language, which ensures that Title X taxpayer dollars do not fund abortion services, including abortion referrals, at any clinic in Nebraska,” the Governor’s Office said in a statement.

Federal law prohibits Title X funds from being used for abortion services.

That change to Title X language tucked into the main budget bill, LB 944, created an impasse during the second round of debate. A vote to cease debate on the bill failed twice before senators worked out a compromise on the language to move the bill forward.

The change to the Title X language means Planned Parenthood of the Heartland will lose funding, at least temporarily.

Ricketts pointed out several highlights in the budget bills, including that more money will go to child welfare this year and next year, an additional 100 beds will be built at the Nebraska State Penitentiary and an additional $2.7 million in funding will go to Nebraskans with developmental disabilities.

When the Legislature convened in January, the state faced a $200 million gap between projected revenues and estimated state spending needs for the two-year budget period that ends June 30, 2019.

The Appropriations Committee recommended smaller budget cuts to state agencies and higher education than what was originally proposed by Ricketts.

Those smaller cuts remain intact in the budget bill signed by Ricketts.

State agencies will take a 2 percent cut next year, and the University of Nebraska, state colleges and community colleges will take a 1 percent cut.

University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds said the change put NU “in a much better place,” and he credited the support of Nebraskans and the State Legislature in arriving at that point.

“The University still faces a significant budget challenge that will require difficult decisions,” he said.

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