Legislature Closer to Finishing 2-Year Budget

New funding for Nebraska property tax relief, water projects and state park renovations has cleared a key vote in the Legislature. Lawmakers gave the state budget bill first-round approval on Tuesday with a 37-2 vote. The vote came after some lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to remove individual spending items, including $2.5 million for bronze fountains at the Capitol and $60,000 in state membership dues for the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact. The measure that won initial approval includes a $25 million annual increase in Nebraska's property tax credit program, $17.5 million for deferred park maintenance and $32 million for water projects by the middle of next year. Lawmakers still have to debate two other measures as part of the $7.8 billion, two-year budget.