The proposal for a new state prison was among a variety of issues discussed Thursday by Sen. John Stinner of Gering during a bi-weekly conference call hosted by the Scottsbluff-Gering Chamber of Commerce.
Stinner says at well in excess of 100 pages and at a cost of $230 million, the plan to try to address prison overcrowding is a big decision with long term implications that needs some serious discussion by lawmakers.
The chair of the Appropriations Committee said everyone knows more needs to be done to address issues with prison capacity in the state. “Most of the emails I’ve received say ‘Don’t build the prison, you need to look at sentencing reform’,” said Stinner. “Well, we did do sentencing reform to some extent my second or third year here in LB605. Some of that worked, and then obviously, some of that didn’t work. But we still have, on an annual basis, an additional 150 beds per year needed.”
Stinner says there are a lot of questions on the subject and the plan is a big ‘ask’, and based on the Legislature’s current timetable, he’s not sure lawmakers will have time to look deeper at every alternative to ease prison overcrowding.
The Legislaure’s Appropriations Committee chair also discussed the future of LR22CA, the Governor’s proposed constitutional amendment that would limit annual growth of local government real property tax increases to three percent.
Stinner said he knows there will be plenty of opposition from local governments, schools and others, and personally, he’s no fan of such caps.
“I know it has support from people who support the Governor on a consistent basis. But I sat on the Gering School Board, and we had caps and lids and stuff we had to deal with, so I’m thinking we already had that in place,” said Stinner. “But obviously, that’s going to be contentious.”