Report says Nebraska lawmakers may have to add money to state's general fund next year

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LINCOLN, Nebraska — Nebraska state government stands on solid financial footing even though lawmakers may have to add money to the general fund next year, officials said Wednesday.

The state faces a projected shortfall of nearly $4.6 million for the new budget year that began this month, according to a report presented to lawmakers.

Despite the estimate, state officials say Nebraska's overall finances are in good shape. Earlier this year, lawmakers approved new spending for a $7.8 billion, two-year budget.

Nebraska also is expected to see a record-high cash reserve of $707.8 million — nearly $15 million more than was estimated at the end of this year's session. The rainy-day fund is traditionally used for construction projects and to pay the state's bills when revenue drops unexpectedly.

"Overall, the financial picture is quite good," said legislative analyst Michael Calvert.

The estimated shortfall represents the difference between the amount of money the state is expected to have it its general fund by June 30 and the minimum money cushion that's required by law. It's likely to change once the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board meets in October to predict the state's future revenue.

Nebraska has seen above-average revenue growth for the last three years but that growth is expected to slow, according to the Legislature's fiscal office. Tax collections have traditionally increased by about 5 percent annually.

The report by the Legislature's Fiscal Office was given to committee leaders on tax and budget issues, as well as Speaker of the Legislature Greg Adams.

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