(The Center Square) – Nebraska’s tax revenues are increasing, not decreasing, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
At one point, Nebraska was forecasting a 10% shortfall, Sarah Curry, director of policy at the Platte Institute, told The Center Square.
“Now compared to this time last year, we have a surplus of $ 500 million,” she said. “It’s definitely not what we expected. Nebraska is doing quite well in terms of income.
Other states are experiencing similar trends, Curry said.
Last March, the Nebraska legislature passed an emergency bill to pay for costs associated with the pandemic, Curry said.
“Then when the federal CARES law was passed, we were able to reimburse ourselves for these expenses,” she said. “It helped our budget a lot. “
Stimulus cash payments and other federal programs have also helped, she said.
“They meant the state didn’t have to make out-of-pocket payments to save businesses, paycheck protection program loans did,” she said. “The state didn’t have to do as much because individual citizens also received their checks. “
The federal government also paid for the cost of federal COVID-19 tests and vaccines.
“States did not have to spend a lot of revenue to fight the pandemic like they would during a natural disaster like a hurricane,” said Curry.
It helped that Nebraska was in good financial health before the pandemic, Curry said.
“Nebraska at the state level is very, very tax-solvent,” said Curry. “Typically, we don’t have to borrow from the federal government for the unemployment trust fund. We keep enough. We keep enough of it in our cash reserve fund for “rainy days” so that in the event of a fall we can take advantage of it. “
As a result of this year’s surplus, the Legislative Assembly’s Appropriations Committee has committed an additional $ 100 million to the fund, which will bring it to about 14.2% of the annual revenue of the State, Curry said.
“It’s a nice amount of money that stays there in case we have a shrinking economy,” Curry said.