LINCOLN–Lawmakers passed the final three bills of the state’s $8.9 billion budget package Tuesday, but only after one failed and was reconsidered.
Legislative Bill 331, introduced by Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk at the request of the governor, initially failed to meet the 33 necessary votes to pass legislation, with a vote of 31-12. It needed 33 rather than 25 because it, and almost all other budget bills, has an emergency clause allowing it to take effect before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
After a reconsideration, LB331 passed with a vote of 36-12.
LB327 and LB332, also budget bills introduced by Scheer, drew some debate as well. Lawmakers continually cited inadequate budget cuts as the reason they voted against the bills.
“I’ve said consistently: we’re spending too much money, we’re not cutting enough, we have a budget shortfall, we should show responsible budgeting in cutting some spending,” said Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson.
Scheer voiced his displeasure with the senators saying that the bill must be passed for them to do their jobs. He also said he doesn’t know how they in good conscience could vote no on LB331, knowing that it needs to pass to keep the state government running.
Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue also chastised the Legislature saying that if lawmakers didn’t like the bills, there were many opportunities for amendments.
LB327, the state’s mainline budget bill, did have one amendment at final reading. Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston, offered an amendment to lower the amount of every general fund appropriation on the bill by 1 percent.
Albrecht said she only wanted to provoke more conversation about the state’s overspending. The senators voiced their opinions, and she withdrew the amendment. The bill passed 36-12.
The governor has five days, not including Sunday, to sign, veto or line-item veto parts of these budget bills.