Why is it so hard for legislators to balance the budget without resorting to revenue farming bills and raising taxes? The Nebraska Legislature is facing nearly a billion dollar budget shortfall over the next two years. Governor Heineman did all the tough work for the legislature by proposing a balanced budget without raising taxes yet there are several tax hikes and creative revenue bills introduced this year. The republican dominated legislature is either hard of hearing or they just hold special interests above the greater good.
On January 27th during a Douglas County republican central committee meeting three state legislature gave an update on happenings in Lincoln. Senators Kirst, Lautenbaugh, and Pirsh discussed how hard it is for the legislature to agree to cut a $250,000 subsidy for motorcycle safety classes from the budget. With a 34 to 15 majority it should be easy for a fiscally conservative republican party to downsize the deficit. It is clear to me that the republican majorities rhetoric does not match their actions.
Why does the state have a deficit in the first place? A major part of the deficit was caused by lost tax revenue during the recession and the federal stimulus ending. 15% of the deficit is caused by pension shortfall and no senator has addressed that issue. Sure there is several bills out there attempting to reform the CIR, the labor court, but none addressing defined benefit pension plans and the problems associated with them.
The senators down in Lincoln need to understand that some people will be upset no matter what they choose to cut. Its ok to piss people off and some people need to be fired. Showing the courage to do the hard things may not be popular or get you re elected, but it will help put the state in better fiscal standing. The republican majority needs to stop acting like liberal democrats and show us what fiscal conservative means.