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Panhandle senators disagree as budget debate begins

Debate has begun on the adjustments to balance this fiscal year’s budget suggested by the Appropriations Committee, and two panhandle senators are already differing on what should be done.

Appropriations Committee Chair John Stinner of Gering supports taking the cash reserve below $300 million to balance the budget.

Stinner says $296  million is “a good number and a beginning” , noting if the legislature controls spending at 3% and state revenues rebound lawmakers should be able to quickly add another $200 million to the reserve and put the state on “solid financial ground.”

But Senator Steve Erdman of Bayard says he plans to vote against the budget adjustments suggested by the Appropriations Committee, claiming the suggested amount in the cash reserve is not enough.

Erdman says, the state is in “dire need of cuts,” telling his colleagues  if the state was trying to get a loan with 20 days of operating capital  it would be turned down. Erdman says if the rainy day fund is so important and the state needs to build it back up,  why is money being taken away?

Declining state revenues in the first half of this fiscal year are forcing senators to discuss taking money from the cash reserve to balance the budget.

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