State budget earns final legislative approval, heads to governor
The Nebraska Legislature on May 21 gave final approval to a two-year state budget package that would fund core needs of the University of Nebraska.
The budget passed on a 35-12 vote after an amendment to reduce the university’s funding by $7.3 million failed. Gov. Pete Ricketts now has until May 27 to approve, veto or line-item veto the budget.
If signed, the budget would fund the request university officials submitted to policymakers last fall 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, and would help keep tuition affordable for the university’s 52,000 students.
“I am encouraged and thankful for the Legislature’s strong show of support for public higher education during the final stages of budget debate,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “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, NU president, praised lawmakers for their hard work in making higher education a priority for the state, particularly after a challenging fiscal period that resulted in multiple funding cuts to NU.
“The budget approved today by the legislature represents a thoughtful, forward-thinking investment in affordable, quality higher education for the people of Nebraska,” Bounds said. “We are grateful for the commitment a strong majority of the legislature has shown to Nebraska’s young people, particularly the 52,000 students of the University of Nebraska, and the long-term economic and workforce growth of the state. We look forward to Governor Ricketts’ consideration.”
Bounds credited Chairman John Stinner of Scottsbluff, Vice Chairwoman Kate Bolz of Lincoln, and fellow appropriations committee members Robert Hilkemann of Omaha, Anna Wishart of Lincoln, Tony Vargas of Omaha, Mike McDonnell of Omaha and Myron Dorn of Adams for leadership in making affordable higher education a priority.
Bounds also thanked the numerous NU students, faculty, staff and supporters who have advocated for the university throughout the legislative session, noting their stories of the university’s work and impact have made a difference with policymakers. Learn more about the university’s advocacy efforts.