Concerned Neb. governor signs road-funding measure

Move will generate over $65 million annually, but state leader worries about economic climate

May 18, 2011

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman hesitated signing the state’s latest road funding bill, mainly because he was thinking twice about future revenue. When state Sen. Deb Fischer introduced LB84 calling for a half cent of the 5-cent sales tax to be diverted to road construction, Heineman called the strategy bold but risky and unaffordable given the economic conditions.

Fischer reduced the earmark to a quarter cent, and it was enough to pass through the state legislature. The move will not go into effect until the 2013 budget process.

“This was a difficult decision,” Heineman said after signing the bill. “Recent revenue forecasts have been encouraging, and now it is possible that the state may be able to afford increased roads funding.”

If Nebraska continues to struggle, Heineman said he has been told by other state senators that adjustments would be made before FY 2013.

When implemented, the tax maneuver could bring in more than $65 million annually. Nebraska’s Roads Department has a wait list of road projects that currently totals almost $816 million.

“My concern has always been safety,” said Fischer. “I think now we can move forward together.”