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State senators expected to have budget to review by end of March
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State senators expected to have budget to review by end of March

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State budget recommendations from the Legislature's Appropriations Committee will be on the desks of state senators by mid-to-late March, committee chairman John Stinner told his colleagues Tuesday.

Those recommendations will follow on the heels of a meeting of the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board in late February.

The Legislature held a morning session in advance of a series of afternoon committee meetings and will resume morning and afternoon committee hearings during the rest of the week, returning to a schedule revised in response to safety precautions dictated by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Among 23 bills receiving first-round approval at the morning session was a proposal (LB323) that seeks to assure that schools continue to receive their allocated state school aid despite changes in school operations resulting from the pandemic.

Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont, chairwoman of the Legislature's Education Committee, introduced the bill to protect school funding.

Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte, former committee chairman, opposed the measure, arguing that the schools are "rolling in federal CARES Act money" allocated in the form of pandemic assistance.

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"Throwing money at public schools (is) absolutely unnecessary," he said.

The bill, which had been advanced to the floor by a unanimous vote of the committee, was advanced to second-stage floor consideration on a 29-5 count.

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