State Treasurer Don Stenberg says he is proposing a zero increase in his office’s 2015-17 operating budget, which was submitted earlier this week to the State Budget Division of the Department of Administrative Services. At the same time, he says, he is proposing to boost the office’s efforts to return unclaimed property to owners.
Stenberg’s budget request for 2015-17 calls for a total operating budget of $4.7 million annually, the same as last year. The request includes a general fund appropriation of $1.3 million each year, a decrease of more than $43,500 each year from the general fund appropriation in 2014-15.
The budgets for all state agencies and constitutional offices will be forwarded to the new governor, to be elected in November, who will present a state budget recommendation to the Legislature early in 2015.
“Through continued economies and efficiencies in the Treasurer’s Office, I am confident we can maintain the high quality of service we now provide with no increase in our overall budget for the coming two fiscal years,” Treasurer Stenberg said. “Budget cuts initiated by me over the past two years have streamlined our office practices and made us keenly aware of how to do more with less.”
The Treasurer’s zero-increase budget follows budget cuts Stenberg initiated in his office in the past two budget cycles. Stenberg asked for and received a 13 percent budget cut (nearly $1.4 million) in 2011-13 and a 1.2 percent budget cut in 2013-15.
“Through careful management practices, we have successfully operated on substantially reduced budgets for three years without requesting a deficit appropriation or without cutting back on any services or the quality of our services,” Stenberg said. Growing use of electronic payments, careful management of office resources, and minimal staff turnover make it possible to offer a new budget with no requested increase, he said.
Stenberg said his zero-increase budget is even more significant given normal inflation and is an example of his follow-through on commitments he made to look for ways to bring economy and efficiency to the Treasurer’s Office. At the same time, the Treasurer’s Office has initiated new programs, including its Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars for high schools, and has seen growth in the number and size of college savings accounts, as well as the assets, in the Treasurer’s popular Nebraska Educational Savings Trust.