Governor waits on budget, seeks balance for schools

Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman says he expects to have a chance to review the near-seven billion dollar, two-year state budget very soon. He expects to see a final proposal from lawmakers in the next few days.

Heineman says, “They’ve done a fairly good job but I’m anxious because of the changing and declining revenues to take one final look, line item by line item, and then we’ll make a determination whether we need to make any vetoes, tighten it up a little bit more.” Lawmakers have been pushing to finish the spending plan.

Along with that, lawmakers have reached second-round approval to changes in the school aid formula. Heineman says it looks like some of the state’s smaller schools may have been shortchanged.

“We only have so much money and the question is how you distribute it, but I’m a little nervous that some of our smaller, rural schools in this latest compromise may not get as much as they had hoped for,” the governor says. “I don’t know the final details yet but we need to find the right balance between our rural and medium-sized schools throughout the state and our larger urban areas, Lincoln and Omaha.”

During this week’s debate, some legislators said the education bill gives an unfair advantage to larger districts. Senator Galen Hadley of Kearney questioned why Omaha Public Schools would get millions more in state aid even though it spends a smaller percentage of its total budget in the classroom than most districts.

Senator Mike Gloor of Grand Island said the new deal makes sense because it costs more to educate poor children.

Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton