LINCOLN — Barely two months before golfers tee off at the U.S. Senior Open in Omaha, Gov. Dave Heineman vetoed $200,000 for tourism promotion at the tournament.
The governor announced Tuesday he was striking the funding from the deficit appropriations bill.
He approved all other portions of the bill, which is part of the state budget package.
Although an avid golfer himself, Heineman said it is “not appropriate or fair” to fund a golf tournament with taxpayer dollars when that money is limited.
He noted state senators are being asked to reduce the price tag on bills ranging from education to juvenile justice.
“Funding for a golf tournament is not a priority use of taxpayer dollars,” Heineman said. “Even without the use of taxpayer dollars, this golf tournament enjoys very strong private sector support and has reached record ticket sales.”
But State Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege said the money is intended to promote Nebraska to those attending and participating in the tournament.
Carlson had introduced a bill seeking $250,000 for tourism promotion at the event. The Appropriations Committee included a reduced amount in its budget package.
Carlson said he wants to attempt an override on the veto. He said the state tax coffers are healthier now than they have been in recent years.
“When we had no money, that was a different story,” he said. “We have had a couple of good tax years.”
The Senior Open is expected to draw 150,000 spectators and add approximately $30 million to the state's economy, according to the committee statement for Carlson's bill.
In addition, winners will pay income taxes on their share of the $2.6 million purse.
Tournament events will be July 8 through 15 at the Omaha Country Club.
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