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Neb. lawmakers may override budget veto

LINCOLN, Neb., May 27 (UPI) -- Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns vetoed the entire $5.4 billion, 2-year state budget on Memorial Day but the Legislature was expected override his action Tuesday.

Johanns said he could not accept a budget that raised taxes to grow government at a time when the state must cut spending. Johanns Monday became the first Nebraska governor in modern times to reject an entire state budget rather than use the line-item veto to scrap specific items.

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His budget proposal had called for a nearly 10 percent cut in every state program in January, an approach that would have reduced aid to elementary and secondary education by $129 million and cut $82 million from the University of Nebraska to close a $763 million state budget deficit.

The Lincoln Journal Star said Johanns also strongly opposed the Legislature's decision to close the Lincoln Correctional Center next year. Johanns said the temporary increases in income, sales, alcohol, cigarette and sales taxes in the budget passed by the Legislature would raise the tax burden for an average family of four by $800.

"The Legislature's budget grows spending at a time when we cannot afford to grow government any bigger than it is," he said at a news conference.

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The Legislature passed its own package of spending cuts and tax increases that would allow local school districts to raise the property tax rate to make up lost state school funding. All three bills passed the Senate by more than the 30 votes required to override the governor's veto.

State Sen. Roger Wehrbein, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said Johanns budget proposal would have raised property taxes and big tuition increases at the state university.

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