LINCOLN — Gov. Dave Heineman's proposed budget for the next two years focuses on education, growing the economy and rebuilding the state's cash reserve fund.
He unveiled a state budget plan Tuesday for the two years beginning July 1 that includes a 4.9 percent increase in spending.
About half of the increase would go towards higher education and K-12 schools. Most of the rest would go for Medicaid, developmental disability services and other health and human service programs.
Among the highlights:
Higher education. The University of Nebraska, state colleges and community colleges would get increases of about 4 percent each year.
The university and state colleges have agreed to freeze tuition for the two years, and Heineman said he hopes the community college boards will do so as well.
K-12 schools. State school aid would increase 5 percent in each of the two years, as would special education funding. The recommendation would require a change in the state aid formula.
The current formula would result in about a 10 percent increase in the first year and another 6 percent in the second year of the budget period.
The governor said the special education money will go to all schools, not just those that get state aid.
Veterans home. His budget earmarks $47 million from the cash reserve fund toward a new Central Nebraska Veterans Home to replace the aging Grand Island home.
Employee salaries. Most state employees would get a 2.25 percent increase each year.
Property tax credit. The governor would continue the state's property tax credit program at the $115 million annual level, where it has been since 2007. The program provides property tax payers with a state tax credit; last year's credit was worth $72 for every $100,000 in valuation.
Medicaid. Heineman used his budget message to take another swipe at the federal health care law, which he opposes.
Even without the expansion of Medicaid envisioned in the federal law, he said the federal law would add $72 million to the cost of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Most of the increase would be for people currently eligible for the two programs who are not now enrolled in them.
Provider rates. Doctors, therapists and other health and human services providers would get an increase in payment rates of 2.25 percent each year.
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