- Associated Press - Monday, January 23, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Gov. Pete Ricketts is defending his decision to recommend $8.2 million in budget cuts to Nebraska’s judicial branch, a proposal criticized by the state Supreme Court’s chief justice.

Ricketts noted Monday that most other state agencies will likely face budget cuts in the midst of a nearly $900 million projected revenue shortfall.

His comments came in response to questions about Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican’s recent statements to lawmakers. In his annual speech to senators last week, Heavican said budget cuts could undermine the state’s efforts to relieve prison crowding and protect public safety.

Ricketts says his proposal still gives the judicial branch flexibility in how it spends money. Nebraska lawmakers are constitutionally required to balance the budget.

Members of the Appropriations Committee have proposed a smaller cut.

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