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There are now nearly 36-thousand COVID-19 cases in Nebraska.  Officials reported 89 new cases yesterday bringing the total in the state to 35-thousand-975.  COVID-19 has claimed 404 lives in Nebraska during the pandemic. Nebraska hospitals are asking for more federal aid to help recover financially from the coronavirus. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Nebraska Hospital Association officials say the pandemic has meant increased costs and a decline in revenue for hospitals.

Omaha Public Libraries To Gradually Reopen This Month

Sep 2, 2020

The City of Omaha is opening some of it's libraries.  The city says five branches across the city will open September 21st.  It comes after Douglas County and the state of Nebraska funneled 60-million dollars in federal CARES Act money to Omaha to cover budget shortages caused by COVID-19.  The city says it wants to open three more libraries on September 28th, with the remaining four coming at a later date. All 12 Omaha library branches have been closed since March.

The Douglas County board has approved spending $1.85 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to buy a mobile command center for the sheriff's office. The decision came despite objections from board members who said the money should be used for rent assistance and other human needs. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the board voted 4-2 Tuesday to approve the expenditure. Sheriff Tim Dunning and supporters said the vehicle could be used for mass vaccinations in rural areas. Coronavirus numbers continue to climb in Nebraska.

Nebraska state government collected more tax revenue than expected in June and ended its fiscal year with about as much money as expected. The Nebraska Department of Revenue says it received $509 million in net tax revenue last month, about 3.3% more than the $493 million that had been projected. For the fiscal year that ended in June 30, the state collected a net total of $4.94 billion, which is slightly higher than the $4.93 billion that had been projected.

Five years after Nebraska lawmakers approved a sweeping plan to reduce prison crowding, state officials are only marginally closer to fixing the problem despite millions of dollars in additional funding. Nebraska is virtually certain to fall into an “overcrowding emergency” on Wednesday, having missed a state-imposed deadline to reduce its inmate population below 140% of what its facilities were designed to hold. The emergency designation will force Nebraska officials to consider paroling all inmates who are eligible.

Nebraska will use its $1.1 billion share of federal coronavirus money to help small businesses, local governments, nonprofits and other groups hard-hit by the pandemic. Gov. Pete Ricketts provided a first glimpse of the state’s plan, which focuses heavily on small businesses and unemployment insurance for laid-off workers. Nebraska will receive $1.25 billion under the federal CARES Act, the emergency law passed to help Americans with the pandemic.

Nebraska lawmakers have given initial approval to a $9.4 billion, two-year state budget that shovels millions of extra dollars into the state’s rainy-day fund amid fears about the global pandemic caused by the new coronavirus. Lawmakers had already planned to boost the state’s cash-reserve fund after three years of lagging tax collections and tight budgets, but the worldwide panic had many of them warning that the state could face more trouble. The new budget would boost the cash reserve to $731 million by the end of the current two-year budget cycle in June 2022.

Nebraska state government could see a boost to its emergency fund over the next few months, but the COVID-19 virus and a panicked stock market are tempering some of those expectations. Members of the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board predicted Friday that the state will collect $5.2 billion in tax revenue during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. That's about $115 million more than the previous projections, and by law, that excess money will go into Nebraska state government's cash reserve fund.

Corrections Department Director calls for new prison

Feb 19, 2020

Nebraska's corrections department director is calling on lawmakers to consider building a new prison.  Corrections Director Scott Frakes unveiled a plan yesterday to issue a request for information to identify options for the "construction, maintenance and creation of new prison capacity." Frakes says the request for information is a first step for several options including a public-private partnership in building a new facility.  Nebraska's prisons are dealing with inmate capacity and under-staffing issues.

 

A bill designed to lower property taxes by boosting state aid for Nebraska's K-12 public schools has advanced out of a legislative committee but will still face opposition when lawmakers debate it. Members of the Revenue Committee voted 6-2 Wednesday to send the proposal to the full Legislature. The bill has won  support from farm and business groups, but some school districts have objected because they would lose some taxing authority and the bill would tighten state-imposed spending restrictions. Gov.