State budget clears first round of debate

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State budget clears first round of debate

The Nebraska State Capitol shines red with Memorial Stadium and City Campus in the background.
Craig Chandler | University Communication

The two-year budget package advanced last week by the appropriations committee passed the first round of legislative debate May 8, a key step forward for funding core the University of Nebraska needs and keeping tuition affordable for the 2019-2021 biennium.

The budget, which funds the university’s request, passed on a 42-4 vote. It must clear two more rounds of debate before it is sent to Gov. Pete Ricketts for consideration.

“I am encouraged and thankful for the Legislature’s strong show of support for public higher education during this initial stage of budget debate,” said Chancellor Ronnie Green. “We recognize that our state lawmakers are faced with tough fiscal decisions. Their critically important prioritization of the state’s flagship land-grant university’s students, research and innovation and extension is a strong investment in the future.”

Hank Bounds, president of the University of Nebraska, praised senators who voted in support of the forward-thinking budget advanced by the appropriations committee. In particular, he credited Chairman John Stinner of Scottsbluff, Vice Chairwoman Kate Bolz of Lincoln, and committee members for their leadership in making affordable higher education a priority. While the budget does not meet all of the university’s needs, he said, it will maintain the university’s value for Nebraska students and families and help NU turn the corner after a challenging fiscal period.

“This budget is good for the University of Nebraska, it’s good for our state and it’s good for the students we serve,” Bounds said. “I’m grateful to the appropriations committee for their commitment to the long-term economic growth and well-being of our state, and I thank the strong majority of senators who have given this prudent budget their initial approval. We look forward to continuing our discussions with policymakers in the weeks ahead.”

The budget funds NU’s request for state appropriation increases of 3 percent in 2019-20 and 3.7 percent in 2020-21. Those increases would cover core needs including salaries and health insurance, operations and utilities.

Senators will take up the budget for a second round of debate next week.

Students, faculty, staff and stakeholders interested in learning more about the university’s advocacy efforts can learn more online.

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