Senators Vote to Override Budget Vetoes

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska lawmakers have voted to override Gov. Dave Heineman's vetoes of state budget items, including funding for courtyard fountains and a new heating system at the Capitol.

"I'm proud the legislature decided to stand by most of its budget," said Senator Heath Mello.

The 37-11 vote on Tuesday comes days after Heineman announced that he had trimmed $65 million from the Legislature's budget package. Heineman singled out the fountains as a less important priority than state-funded property tax relief.

"I vetoed more than enough to demonstrate to the legislature that they can use additional money to add $25 million dollars to the property tax credit fund," said Governor Dave Heineman.

Supporters of the override motion argued that the fountains are the last major, unfinished design feature of the Capitol. The fountain project was halted because of the Depression.

Construction is now expected to end just before Nebraska celebrates its 150th anniversary as a state.

"Finally take advantage right now of this year and this session to address some long standing challenges both on the spending and on the tax side," said Mello.

Opponents say the project should sit near the very bottom of Nebraska's priority list.

That was echoed by Senator Beau McCoy for most of Tuesday morning, questioning why these capitol improvement projects are happening now instead of providing tax relief.

"However beautiful they may be to have in our courtyards, I think it's a mistake to spend two and a half million dollars out of the cash reserve for these fountains," said McCoy.

Thirty votes were needed for a successful override.

"I'm very proud to be part of the legislature that prioritizes the key aspects that voters and taxpayers bring to us. Even sometimes with items that don't fit on a bumper sticker," said Mello.