Fair Fun! I had a great time visiting with folks and enjoying the energetic atmosphere at the Dakota/Thurston County Fair this past weekend. From the Butterfly Encounter to the free rodeo and Equine Parade, from sack races, cake eating and Nail driving contests to the Battle of the Bands, the fair offered a whole lot of something for everybody. For me, it was a packed weekend, as I ran between two fairs, with grandkids participating in the Dakota/Thurston County and the Dodge County Fairs. There’s no substitute for the looks of excitement on the kids’ faces as they show their projects and receive those coveted ribbons. I was impressed by the hard work and amazing talent on display throughout the entries. As always, I enjoyed attending and appreciate that the communities go all out to provide a fun, welcoming atmosphere and a quality line-up of entry categories and activities. Most of all, I appreciate the community commitment to provide an opportunity for neighbors to connect over good food and great fun. I’m already looking forward to next year!
In other news, the Tax Rate Review Committee had its required meeting this month to determine whether the sales and income tax rates in Nebraska should be changed. The Legislative Fiscal Office presented a report to the committee. No action was taken.
To summarize the report, General Fund receipts for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-19 were $131.4 million above the April forecast. By law, the additional revenues will be transferred to the State’s “Rainy Day Fund” (Cash Reserves). The adjusted revenue receipts for FY 2018-19 rose 8.7%, compared to the forecasted 5.7% increase. However, the actual increase from the prior year is 7.2% (rather than 8.7%). The difference is due to adjustments such as a shift of income tax revenue from FY 2019 to 2020 due to delayed filings related to flooding. How the FY 2018-19 revenue performance will affect the forecasts for the next two fiscal years (FY2019-20 and FY2020-21) will be addressed at the October meeting of the Nebraska Economic Forecast Advisory Board (NEFAB). I’ll keep you posted.
Finally, I’ve been waiting for word from Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) about the Hwy. 94 Bridge in Pender that was damaged by the spring flooding. Although damaged and impassable bridges are an inconvenience for everybody and we wish things moved more quickly, we also recognize the widespread damage to infrastructure throughout the state. We finally received a status and funding update from NDOT that I’d like to share with you:
HWY 94 East of Pender Project Status: The contractor, Valley Corp, has notice to proceed and will begin the process of excavation following utility location. Tribal monitoring has not impacted the schedule of the project as of August 2, 2019.
The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) does have a six percent TERO tax agreement with the Omaha Tribe and is currently negotiating a Tribal Monitoring Agreement for the HWY 94 bridge and river bank repairs as the Omaha tribe has requested tribal monitoring on the project..
The project is a result of the March 2019 flooding which means it is covered by a Governor’s Emergency Declaration, as well as a Federal Major Disaster Declaration. The severity of the event allows the NDOT to expedite the procurement and construction process to restore essential traffic. This means that the typical construction process, to include the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, is adjusted to allow mobility to be reestablished as quickly as possible.
For repair work on the estimated $156M in damages to the federal-aid eligible transportation system, initial financial responsibility falls upon the NDOT with the Federal Highway Administration reimbursing NDOT after the repairs are compete. Reimbursement rates are dependent on if work is temporary (100% federal) or permanent (80% federal and 20% state). For roads off the federal-aid system the financial responsibility falls to the local entity and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Please visit NDOT’s flood recovery website for updated information:https://dot.nebraska.gov/news-media/nebraska-flood-2019/
As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you.
You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org