Senators Start Debating the Biennium Budget

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LINCOLN, Neb.-- Nebraska lawmakers are squabbling over how much money to put into a state fund that helps reduce property taxes, and whether to pay $2.5 million for bronze fountains at the Capitol.

The disputes on Monday arose as lawmakers debated changes to the state's $7.8 billion, two-year budget.

The current proposal includes a $25 million increase in Nebraska's property tax credit fund, bringing the total annual amount to $140 million.

The money is distributed as a tax credit to property owners. Senators on Monday rejected an attempt to increase the fund by $45 million instead.

"We balanced our budget by cutting their aid where do we expect them to go?," said Sen. Galen Hadley.

"The property tax credit program is one of the only few options we have this biennium. It's my hope that the revenue committee will look at other options to have more flexibility next biennium," said Sen. Mello.

Some conservatives tried unsuccessfully to strip funding for Capitol fountains out of the budget. The fountains were part of the Capitol's original design, but were never finished.