Gov. Dave Heineman today sent a strongly-worded letter [PDF] to Speaker Mike Flood, criticizing his support for a bill extending prenatal coverage to illegal immigrants and threatening to veto it.
Heineman held a news conference the day after the legislature advanced LB 599, which would extend Medicaid coverage to the prenatal needs of poor women, including those in the country illegally.
Heineman stated that his staff had hand-delivered the letter to Speaker Flood’s office. In it, the governor expressed his disappointed in the Speaker.
“I am extraordinarily disappointed with your support of taxpayer funded benefits for illegal aliens. LB 599 is about illegal immigration.
Taxpayer funds should not be used for illegal individuals. If this bill becomes law, Nebraska will become a magnet for illegal aliens. Nebraska will become the only state in the Midwest providing taxpayer-funded benefits to illegals. None of our neighboring states, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota, provide taxpayer-funded benefits to illegals.”
Heineman also, in the letter, criticized the Speaker for supporting LB 357, a bill that would allow cities to seek an increase in their sales tax.
“Unless you and the Legislature reverse course, the legacy of this session will be one in which illegals were given preferential treatment over legal Nebraska citizens. This will be a session remembered for a tax increase on legal working Nebraska men and women while illegal aliens were provided taxpayer-funded benefits.”
During the news conference, Heineman said the legislature is preparing to spend taxpayer money on people in the country illegally.
“This is about illegal immigration,” Heineman stated in measured tones. “And the legislature is about to pass a bill that would give illegal immigrants taxpayer-funded benefits. None of our surrounding states do that. We’re going to become a magnet for illegal aliens. I disagree with this bill.”
LB 599 would extend Medicaid coverage to about 1,600 poor women, many of whom are illegal immigrants. It would cost approximately $2.6 million annually. Most of the money comes from the federal government. The state’s share would total about $650,000 annually.
Heineman flatly rejected arguments made by supporters in the legislature made during floor debate that extending prenatal coverage to illegal immigrants is a pro-life issue.
“I’m one of the most pro-life governors in America. This issue is about illegal immigration and Nebraskans know that,” Heineman stated. “I receive many emails and (have) conversations with Nebraskans and they’ll say, ‘I’m pro-life, but I’m opposed to illegal immigrants getting taxpayer-funded benefits.’ It’s pure and simple.”
Heineman also criticized the Speaker and the legislature for supporting LB 357, a bill that would allow cities to seek an increase in their sales tax.
Heineman said lawmakers need to listen to Nebraskans.
“We don’t support taxpayer-funded benefits for illegals,” according to Heineman. “We don’t need a tax increase on the working men and women of this state. It’s going to make us less competitive for jobs.”
AUDIO: Gov. Dave Heineman news conference on LB 599 and LB 357 [9 min.]