Nebraska lawmakers brace for $1.2 billion budget shortfall

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska will face a projected $1.2 billion shortfall when lawmakers convene in January, but legislative leaders aren't planning yet for a special session.

Members of the Tax Rate Review Committee say they believe they can still balance the budget during the session that begins in January. The committee adjourned on Wednesday without recommending any action, but senators are already developing plans and explaining the situation to newly elected lawmakers.

Sen. Heath Mello, who leads the Legislature's budget-writing committee, says lawmakers may have to tap the cash reserve and other cash funds. In addition, Gov. Pete Ricketts has imposed spending restrictions on state agencies.

Budget officials say low commodity prices are largely responsible for state revenue coming in below projections, as is a strong U.S. dollar that has hurt exports.