A new report from the Platte Institute takes a closer look at state spending over the past 50 years.

Nebraska's total state budget reached a new high last, year coming in at close to $12 billion.

The author of the study, Sarah Curry, wanted to create a resource for policy makers so they can have a better understanding of the history of the state's spending.

According to the study, spending continues to rise and is at record levels once inflation and population growth are taken into account.

On a conference call Tuesday, Curry discussed her findings with the media.

"Normally as the population grows more government services are necessary and that's a perfectly logical explanation for needing to spend more money but as we can see here Nebraska's population has only grown by 31% and the budget has grown by significantly more than that," said Curry, author of "Trends in Nebraska State Spending."

The study reveals state spending has grown by 384% since 1968.

Nebraska's total state budget set a new expense record last year, reaching more than $11.8 billion dollars.

Curry noted that, over the decades, state spending often correlates directly with how well the economy is doing.

"When Nebraska's economy is not doing well, the state does a really good job, and buckles down, and doesn't spend as much money. And when the state is doing well with the economy in general, like it was during the 70s and the 90s, the state tends to spend more money," said Curry.

The study shows that, historically, spending on transportation and roads has been one of the largest expenditures in state government.

Recently, the biggest area of spending growth has been in the public employee's retirement system, which has grown 441% and now exceeds transportation spending.

"The biggest takeaway from me is that there is a lot of spending that occurs in Nebraska outside the general funds. I would like to see policy makers having more of a focus and more of an interest in the spending that is occurring outside of the general funds," said Curry.

One big area of concern for lawmakers is what to do about property taxes.

Curry hopes all legislators consult her study before making any decisions.

The study can be found here: www.platteinstitute.org/research/detail/trends-in-nebraska-state-spending.