Gov. Heineman criticizes road funding


March 31st, 2011

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Lincoln, NE – Governor Dave Heineman is criticizing a proposal to set aside money for building roads.

Until now, the governor has been fairly low key about Senator Deb Fischer’s proposal to reserve part of the state’s existing tax revenues for road construction. As it now stands, that proposal would set aside half a cent of the states existing sales tax about $125 million a year for road construction, beginning in 2013. Heineman himself has said the state needs to find another way to finance roads, as more efficient vehicles and other trends diminish gas tax revenues. But he’s also advised waiting until the economic future looks more settled. On Friday, the Legislature voted first round approval of Fischer’s bill. In his first news conference since that vote, Heineman delivered his strongest criticism yet.

Sen. Deb Fischer's proposal advanced in the Nebraska Legislature despite Gov. Heineman's concerns it could diminish funding for schools and universities. (Photo credit Nebraska Legislature)

“Her proposal is unaffordable in the current economic climate and any reasonable projection of near term economic growth,” he said. “If enacted today, the bill would result in less funding for our public schools, less funding for our community colleges, less funding for our state colleges, and less funding for the University of Nebraska. Many health and human services programs would be cut.”

The governor stopped short of saying he would veto the bill if it reaches his desk. Thirty two senators voted for the proposal on the first round, and it would take 30 to override a veto. Asked about Heineman’s comments, Fischer said simply that she will continue to work with senators who have been involved with the issue for many years, and she’s looking forward to the next round of debate. An amendment to be considered then would reduce the new money set aside for roads to $75 million a year.

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