Nebraska state budget
Energy policy • Public education • School choice • Public pensions • State budget • Ballot measures
|Nebraska state budget|
|State Credit Rating:||AAA (as of May 2012)|
|Current Governor:||Dave Heineman|
|GF expenses:||$3.6 billion|
|All funds expenses:||$10.2 billion (FY 2013 estimate)|
|Spending % Change:||5.6%|
|% from Federal Funding:||34.34%|
|Per Capita State Debt:||$7,081|
|Other state budgets|
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- 1 Budget process
- 2 Expenditures
- 3 Revenues
- 4 State budgets by year
- 5 Historical spending
- 6 State debt
- 7 Federal aid to state budget
- 8 Budget transparency
- 9 Accounting principles
- 10 Contact information
- 11 See also
- 12 External links
- 13 References
- A summary of the budget drafting process
- Trends in expenditures and revenues
- Current and past fiscal year budget developments
- Financial transparency measures
Between fiscal year 2009 and fiscal year 2013, Nebraska's total expenditures increased by approximately $600 million, from $9.6 billion in 2009 to $10.2 billion in 2013. This represents a 5.9 percent increase, below the cumulative rate of inflation during the same period (9.06 percent, calculated using the Consumer Price Indices for January 2009 and January 2013).
- Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in July.
- Agency requests are submitted to the governor in September.
- Agency hearings and public hearings are held in January and February.
- On or before January 15, the governor submits his or her proposed budget to the Nebraska State Senate.
- The Senate adopts a budget in May. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.
The governor may exercise line item veto and item veto of appropriations authority.
The governor is constitutionally required to submit a balanced budget. In turn, the legislature is statutorily required to adopt a balanced budget.
Although each state executes its budget process differently, the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) breaks down state expenditures into four general categories. This allows for comparisons among the 50 states. NASBO's categories are as follows:
- General fund: "The predominant fund for financing a state’s operations. Revenues are received from broad-based state taxes. However, there are differences in how specific functions are financed from state to state."
- Other funds: "Expenditures from revenue sources that are restricted by law for particular governmental functions or activities. For example, a gasoline tax dedicated to a highway trust fund would appear in the “Other funds” column. For Medicaid, other state funds include provider taxes, fees, donations, assessments, and local funds."
- Federal funds: "Funds received directly from the federal government."
- Bonds: "Expenditures from the sale of bonds, generally for capital projects."
The table below breaks down expenditures for fiscal year 2013 (comparable figures from surrounding states are provided to give additional context). Figures for all columns except "Per capita expenditures" are rendered in millions of dollars (for example, $2,448 translates to $2,448,000,000). Figures in the column labeled "Per capita expenditures" have not been abbreviated.
|Total state expenditures, FY 2013 ($ in millions)|
|State||General fund||Federal funds||Other funds||Bonds||Total||Per capita expenditures**|
| **Per capita figures are calculated by taking the state's total expenditures and dividing by the number of state residents according to United States Census estimates.|
Source: National Association of State Budget Officers
Expenditures by function
State expenditures in Nebraska can be further broken down by function (elementary and secondary education, public assistance, etc.). Fiscal year 2012 data is included in the table below (information from neighboring states is provided for additional context). Figures are rendered as percents, indicating the share of the total budget spent per category.
|Expenditures by function, FY 2012 (as percents)|
|State||Elementary and secondary ed.||Higher ed.||Public assistance||Medicaid||Corrections||Transportation||Other|
|Source: National Association of State Budget Officers|
From 2008 to 2012, expenditures on elementary and secondary education increased by 0.5 percentage points, a 3.4 percent increase in the share of the budget, and expenditures on higher education increased by 1.5 percentage points, a 6.8 percent increase in the share of the budget. During the same time period expenditures on public assistance, Medicaid, corrections and transportation decreased by one percentage point or less. For public assistance, that represented a decrease of 28.6 percent in the share of the budget. For Medicaid, it represented a decrease of 5.6 percent in the share of the budget. The table below details changes in expenditures from 2008 to 2012. Figures are rendered as percents, indicating the share of the total budget spent per category.
|Expenditures from 2008 to 2012 (as percents)|
|Year||Elementary and secondary ed.||Higher ed.||Public assistance||Medicaid||Corrections||Transportation||Other|
|Change in %||0.50%||1.50%||-0.20%||-1.00%||-0.20%||-0.30%||-0.10%|
|Source: National Association of State Budget Officers|
The table below breaks down general fund revenues by source in fiscal year 2013 (comparable figures from surrounding states are also provided to give additional context). Figures for all columns except "Per capita revenue" are rendered in millions of dollars (for example, $2,448 translates to $2,448,000,000). Figures in the column labeled "Per capita revenue" have not been abbreviated.
|Revenue sources in the general fund, FY 2013 ($ in millions)|
|State||Sales tax||Personal income tax||Corporate income tax||Gaming tax||Other taxes and fees||Total||Per capita revenue**|
| **Per capita figures are calculated by taking the state's total revenues and dividing by the number of state residents according to United States Census estimates for 2013.|
Source: National Association of State Budget Officers
The table below details the change in revenue sources in the general fund from 2009 to 2013. Figures for all columns except "Per capita revenue" are rendered in millions of dollars (for example, $2,448 translates to $2,448,000,000). Figures in the column labeled "Per capita revenue" have not been abbreviated.
|Revenue sources in the general fund, Nebraska ($ in millions)|
|Year||Sales tax||Personal income tax||Corporate income tax||Gaming tax||Other taxes and fees||Total||Per capita revenue**|
|Change in %||11.24%||31.38%||39.39%||N/A||-14.22%||20.70%||16.06%|
| **Per capita figures are calculated by taking the state's total revenues and dividing by the number of state residents according to United States Census estimates.|
Source: National Association of State Budget Officers
State budgets by year
See budget bill: 2013-2015 Biennial Budget
Fiscal year 2014
|Nebraska state budget -- 2014|
|Nebraska State Legislature|
|Text:||LB 906 (This is one of three bills that comprise the 2013-2015 budget)|
|Introduced:||January 15, 2014|
|State Senate:||March 24, 2014|
|Vote (upper house):||41-7-1|
|Signed:||March 29, 2014|
The enacted Biennial budget for 2013-2015 comprised of three different bills passed by the Nebraska State Senate. Governor Dave Heineman signed all three bills on March 29, 2014 with line-item reductions. Some of the line-item reductions included vetoing portions of transfers from the General Fund to the Water Sustainability Fund and the Game and Parks State Park Improvement and Maintenance Fund.
Fiscal year 2013
- See also: Nebraska state budget (2012-2013)
Fiscal year 2012
- See also: Nebraska state budget (2011-2012)
Fiscal year 2011
- See also: Nebraska state budget (2010-2011)
Fiscal year 2010
- See also: Nebraska state budget (2009-2010)
State budget historical spending below was compiled by the National Association of State Budget Officers. Figures reflect the reported "Total Expenditures" in Table 1. Figures for all columns are rendered in millions of dollars (for example, $2,448 translates to $2,448,000,000).
|Historical state budget spending in Nebraska ($ in millions)|
|Fiscal year||General Fund||Other funds||Federal funds||Bonds||Budget totals|
|Total||% of Budget||Total||% of Budget||Total||% of Budget||Total||% of Budget|
|General Fund: The predominant fund for financing a state’s operations. Revenues are received from broad-based state taxes. However, there are differences in how specific functions are financed from state to state.|
Other funds: Expenditures from revenue sources that are restricted by law for particular governmental functions or activities. For example, a gasoline tax dedicated to a highway trust fund would appear in the “Other funds” column. For Medicaid, other state funds include provider taxes, fees, donations, assessments, and local funds.
Federal funds: Funds received directly from the federal government.
Bonds: Expenditures from the sale of bonds, generally for capital projects.
According to a January 2014 report by the nonprofit organization State Budget Solutions, Nebraska had a state debt of over $13 billion. Its state debt per capita was $7,081. The report revealed that state governments faced a combined $5.1 trillion in debt, 33 percent of annual gross state product. The obligation amounts to $16,178 per capita in the nation. A bulk of the state debt -- 79 percent -- was linked to unfunded public pensions.
|Total state debt in Nebraska|
|Total state debt||$13,139,045,000||46|
|Per capita debt||$7,081||49|
|State and other fund expenditures||$6,889,000,000||48|
States sometimes sell general obligation bonds to investors in order to finance large-scale undertakings (e.g., road construction and other public works projects). Credit rating agencies, such as Standard and Poor's, assign grades to states, evaluating their ability to pay the principal and interest on such bonds. Standard and Poor's grades range from AAA, the highest available, to BBB, the lowest. Generally speaking, a higher credit rating indicates lower risk for an investor, which in turn lowers costs for taxpayers.
The table below lists the Standard and Poor's credit rating for Nebraska from 2001 to 2012 (grades from surrounding states are provided for additional context).
|S&P credit ratings from 2001 to 2012|
Federal aid to state budget
- See also: Federal aid to budgets in the 50 states
The chart below notes how much of the state’s general revenues come from the federal government. Figures were calculated by dividing each state’s federal intergovernmental revenue into its general revenue. The number in the rightmost column indicates the state's ranking in relation to the rest of the nation (e.g., if "1," the state receives the highest percentage of federal funding in the nation). Figures from neighboring states are included to provide additional context.
State governments receive aid from the federal government to fund a variety of joint programs, such as Medicaid. Federal aid varies considerably from state to state. For example, Mississippi received approximately $7.7 billion in federal aid in 2012, which accounted for more than 45 percent of the state's general revenues. By contrast, Alaska received roughly $2.9 billion in federal aid in 2012, just under 20 percent of the state's general revenues.
|Federal aid to state budgets in 2012|
|State||Federal aid as % of general revenue||Total federal aid||National rank|
According to Recovery.gov, the official government website for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Nebraska received $1.27 billion in federal stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act between February 2009 and June 2013.
|Line item expenditures|
|Public employee salaries|
|Last evaluated in 2009.|
NebraskaSpending.com is a publicly available website created by the Nebraska government. It discloses information about how the state spends taxpayer dollars and includes data on agency expenditures and contracts. It was created at the initiative of State Treasurer Shane Osborn in July, 2007.
Cost estimates for creating online transparency websites had varied widely from state to state. As Nebraska's Treasurer Osborn noted in his letter to Virginia's legislators, such estimates were sometimes erroneous and higher than they should have been. According to Osborn, Nebraskaspending.com only cost $38,000, despite an initial $1.1 million cost estimate.
Treasurer Shane Osborn speaks about Nebraska's online spending site.
The Nebraska Spending website provides a database of state financial information that is searchable by criteria such as amounts spent, agency and vendors. The table to the right is helpful in evaluating the level of transparency provided by Nebraska Spending.
Multi-measure budget transparency profile
The Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois created a multi-measure transparency profile for Nebraska, which measured state transparency as of September 2011 using indicators from a range of organizations. These indicators measured both website transparency and other recognized facets of governmental transparency. In addition, IGPA presented four unique indicators of non-transparency based on the observation that transfers or reassignments between general and special funds can obscure the true fiscal condition of a state.
IGPA devised a budget transparency index based on information available from the National Association of State Budget Officers. Nebraska tied for 33rd in the nation with 12 other states, earning four out of eight possible points.
|Nebraska - IGPA score for budget process, contents and disclosure|
|Budget transparency indicator||Yes or no?|
|"Generally Accepted Accounting Principles" budget|
|Binding revenue forecast|
|Legislative revenue forecast|
|Constitution or statutory tax/spend limitations|
In addition to the individual state profile, IGPA offers a 50-state comparison and profiles for other states.
U.S. PIRG "Following the Money" report
- See also: Following the Money 2014 Report
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending. According to the report, Nebraska received a grade of B- and a numerical score of 82, indicating that Nebraska was an "advancing" state in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
The Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts office is responsible for independent, accurate and timely audits, evaluations and investigations of the financial operations of Nebraska state and local governments. The office of the Auditor of Public Accounts is one of six offices that make up the executive branch of the Nebraska State Government. Nebraska's audit reports are published online here.
The Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) rates Nebraska “timely” in filing the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) – the annual report of state and local governmental entities. IFTA rated 22 states timely, 22 states tardy, and six states as worst. IFTA did not consider Nebraska's CAFRs, and those of the other states, to be accurate representations of the state’s financial condition because the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) basis did not include significant liabilities for the pension plans and for other post employment benefits, such as health care. Nebraska's CAFRs were published online by the Nebraska Administrative Services Accounting Division.
State Accounting is a division of the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) that operates and maintains statewide financial systems. The division pre-audits agency transactions, issues statewide Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) and Budgetary Reports, and coordinates the long-term financing needs of the state. State Accounting also prepares the Statewide Cost Allocation Plan (SWCAP).
S&P raised Nebraska's credit rating from AA+ to AAA, in part because the state had sought structural balance rather than relying on nonrecurring actions to balance its budgets.
DAS Budget Division
Room 1320, State Capitol
P.O. Box 94664
Lincoln, NE 68509-4664
PHONE: (402) 471-2526
FAX: (402) 471-8074
- Nebraska government sector lobbying
- Nebraska public pensions
- Governor of Nebraska
- Nebraska State Senate
- Nebraska Auditor
- State Budget Solutions, Nebraska
- Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom
- Platte Institute for Economic Research
- Nebraska Tax Research Council
- Nebraska Office of the Treasurer
- Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
- Nebraska State Auditor
- Nebraska Department of Administrative Services, State Budget Division
- Nebraska Department of Revenue
- Nebraska Government spending
- American Legislative Exchange Council
- Video of Governor Dave Heineman's Interview on Nebraska Economic Conditions
- U.S. PIRG, "Report: Transparent & Accountable Budgets," April 8, 2014
- The New York Times, "Battles loom in many states over what to do with budget surpluses," February 3, 2014
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Policy Basics: The ABCs of State Budgets," February 7, 2013
- Refers to General Fund spending. Typically in state budgets the General Fund is spending that is most directly controlled by state legislators.
- This figure is derived by calculating the percent difference between the prior two years' spending levels according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, "CPI Detailed Report Data for February 2014," accessed April 9, 2014
- InflationData.com, "Cumulative Inflation Calculator," February 28, 2014
- National Conference of State Legislatures "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- United States Census Bureau, "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013," accessed February 26, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Census Bureau, "Vintage 2009: Annual Population Estimates," accessed February 26, 2014
- Official Nebraska Government Website, "State Budget Division," accessed April 23, 2014
- Official Nebraska Government Website, "Memo to the Nebraska Legislature from the Governor," March 29, 2014
- State Budget Solutions, "State Budget Solutions' Fourth Annual State Debt Report," January 8, 2014
- Washington Examiner, "EXography: Unfunded public employee pensions drive state debts skyward," January 21, 2014
- State Budget Solutions "State Budget Solutions' Fourth Annual State Debt Report," January 8, 2014
- 2011 Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll, Census 2010
- 2010 Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll--Membership by State, Census 2010
- Stateline: The Daily News Service of The Pew Charitable Trusts, "Infographic: S&P State Credit Ratings, 2001-2012," July 13, 2012
- United States Census Bureau, "State Government Finances: 2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- Recovery, "Stimulus Spending by State"
- National Taxpayers Union, "Taxpayer Group Applauds South Carolina Governor, Nebraska Treasurer for Putting State Spending Online," October 10, 2007
- Shane Osborn, "Letter to Virginia Legislators," January 27, 2009
- Institute of Government and Public Affairs at University of Illinois, "Home page," accessed February 21, 2014
- Institute of Government and Public Affairs at University of Illinois, "Budget Transparency Profiles - All 50 States," September 2011
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts Website, accessed October 30, 2009
- Institute for Truth in Accounting, “The Truth About Balanced Budgets—A Fifty State Study,” Page 35
- Nebraska Administrative Services Accounting Division
- Nebraska Accounting Division Web site, accessed October 30, 2009
- State of Indiana, “State Credit Ratings," June 24, 2009
- Pew Stateline Infographic on State Credit Ratings, accessed September 26, 2013
- The Lincoln Journal Star, "S&P raises state of Nebraska's rating to AAA," May 6, 2011