Committees shuck senators' attempts to take NE road dollars

| 8/9/2002

Senators in Nebraska have failed at their attempts to divert money from the Highway Trust Fund to balance the state's budget. Four of the five proposed bills are dead after being "indefinitely postponed" by their committees.

LB30, introduced by Sen. D. Paul Hartnett, would have diverted to the general fund half of the proceeds from the sales and uses taxes on vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers and would have increased the authorization of the Highway Commission to issue bonds for construction and maintenance of the highway system. The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee struck down the bill after a committee hearing Aug. 5. Hartnett says he will re-introduce his bill next session.

Sen. Nancy P. Thompson had three bills to tap into the Highway Trust Fund, all shot down in committee. LB15 would have increased the amount provided to the Nebraska public transportation assistance program from the Highway Trust Fund from $1 million to $1,621,000. LB16 would have taken Highway Trust Fund money from the state and allocate it to the Nebraska State Patrol Cash Fund. LB38 would have directed proceeds from the additional half-cent sales tax on motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers to the General Fund. Thompson says she will re-introduce her bills next session.

LB19 is the only one of the five still kicking. The bill, introduced by Sen. Chris Beutler, could transfer the portion of the motor vehicle sales tax allocated to the Department of Roads from the Highway Cash Fund to the General Fund. The Appropriations Committee tacked the bill's proposal onto another appropriation bill, LB1. For bill status, call (402) 371-2709.
-- Rene Tankersley