LINCOLN - Critics rail against it, but a compromise is reached, a filibuster is broken, and a budget bill moves into position for passage.
Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk comes to the legislative floor to announce a compromise had been reached on Title X federal family planning money.
“This is it folks,” Scheer tells legislators. “This is as good as it gets. I would hope that we don’t have to spend two hours on this.”
That wouldn’t happen.
After a week of on again and off again negotiations among a handful of senators, compromise language was fashioned and brought to the floor Wednesday evening for the full body’s consideration.
Twice, supporters of Legislative Bill 944, the mainline budget bill, failed to overcome filibusters; first falling three votes short, then falling two votes short.
This time supporters got 10 more votes than necessary to break the filibuster. LB 944 then passed easily with a vote of 44-4-1.
It took a while to get there and the compromise took a lot of abuse during the two full hours of debate granted its critics.
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha scolds fellow lawmakers, claiming they gave in to Gov. Pete Ricketts.
“Sickening. Disgusting. You ought to be ashamed, every one of you, but you’re not,” Chambers says, raising his voice as he chastises his fellow lawmakers. “You have no shame. You’re going to pretend that you did something. I told you in the beginning what would happen. He loathes you. He cannot respect you. You have no respect for yourself.”
Chambers claps as Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, a Democratic candidate for governor, tells colleagues they let Ricketts have his way.
“Own it,” Krist shouts. “And the governor of the state of Nebraska needs to own what he has done today. This is a one year victory and maybe not even that. Maybe it will end in November.”
Sen. Adam Morfeld tells colleagues the restrictive language is aimed at one provider: Planned Parenthood.
The Title X language prohibits agencies from receiving federal family planning and preventive health care money unless their clinics are separate from any clinic providing abortions. Supporters have claimed Planned Parenthood can still receive the money as long as its family planning services are separate from its abortion services.
Nebraska distributes $1.9 million in Title X funding to 42 clinics throughout the state, three run by Planned Parenthood. The clinics serve 28,000 poor Nebraskans, mostly women.
LB 944 would cut state agencies 2% both this fiscal year and next fiscal year. It would cut the University of Nebraska budget by 2% this fiscal year and 1% next fiscal year.
The bills seek to shore up a $8.8 billion state budget passed last year burdened by a drop of state revenue totaling nearly $175 million as well as increased expenses, especially a jump of $55 million in the cost of child welfare services.
Legislators earlier advanced to Final Reading the two companion budget bills, authorizing transfers from the Rainy Day Fund and various agency fund surpluses.
It will need to pass one more round of voting to move to the governor’s desk.