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Analyst: Nebraska state government's cash reserve remains healthy with projected $729M balance

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LINCOLN, Nebraska — Nebraska state government has maintained a healthy cash reserve and a general fund balance that is above the minimum required by law, a legislative analyst said Wednesday.

In response, members of the Legislature's Tax Rate Review Committee decided that no changes were needed to the state income and sales tax rates this year.

Fiscal office director Michael Calvert told the committee the reserve "remains healthy," with a projected balance of nearly $729 million. The state's general fund is projected to have $289 million remaining at the end of the current two-year budget cycle, which is $17.2 million above the minimum required by law.

"Cash flow is not an issue for us," Calvert said.

The cash reserve balance accounts for roughly 16 percent of the total revenue the state is expected to collect annually during the current two-year budget period.

An expected upgrade to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the Nebraska Capitol will reduce the cash reserve to $708 million in the next budget period, which runs from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2019.

The Nebraska Department of Revenue reported this month that the state collected roughly $10 million more in revenue than projected during the last fiscal year, which ended on June 30. Tax collections for the year totaled about $4.3 billion, which was 2 percent higher than the official state forecast.

The committee is comprised of Speaker of the Legislature Galen Hadley of Kearney, Appropriations Committee Chairman Heath Mello of Omaha, Revenue Committee Chairman Mike Gloor of Grand Island and Executive Board Chairman Bob Krist of Omaha.

Committee members meet after the legislative session to review the state's financial situation and decide whether to petition the governor for a special session to balance the budget.

"If this were Kansas, God help us, we would be doing that," Krist said, referring to that state's budget problems after large tax cuts were approved. "But this is Nebraska."

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