Speaker Jim Scheer

LINCOLN - Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer says state lawmakers face many challenges as they begin a new legislative session.

Many bills will be filed, many issues will surface, but one stands out, according to Speaker Scheer.

“The biggest difficulty without question is going to be funding,” Scheer tells reporters. “We’ve had now three months in a row that have been lower than expectations.”

State revenue simply hasn’t rebounded. Scheer, a state senator from Norfolk, anticipates the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board will lower revenue expectations further, compounding the fiscal problem facing legislators this year.

This is the long, 90-day legislative session, the first half of the two-year session in which lawmakers draft a state budget. Gov. Pete Ricketts will outline his fiscal priorities tomorrow in the State of the State address. The governor submits his plan to the legislature. The Appropriations Committee led again by Sen. John Stinner of Scottsbluff then begins work to fashion a budget to submit to the legislature for debate.

Scheer says the fact that he returns as Speaker and Stinner and other chairs have been re-elected brings valuable experience to the legislative process. In fact, Scheer says the smooth process this year of electing committee chairs, in contrast to the rancor of two years ago, should pay dividends later in the session.

“Without question this session I think started off on the right foot as far as the body itself being able to work amongst itself,” according to Scheer.

Scheer says collegiality is important when the legislature faces difficult issues.