A bill that would create an Aging Nebraskans Task Force and seek federal grant support is advancing in the state legislature.
Senator Bill Kintner of Papillion, who has railed against the federal government, criticized the bill because he says it will lead to greater expenses in the future.
“There’s just a big rush, grab the so-called free government money, grab it, grab it, grab it,” Kintner says. “Get your hands on it. It’s going to go away. Next year, there’ll be another government program. We’ll fund it for two years with that ‘free’ federal money and then they’ll take it away from us.”
The measure (LB 690) would require a state commitment of funding over two years of about $8.6 million to access federal funds of over $36 million.
Senator Steve Lathrop of Omaha says those who criticize spending constantly, aren’t consistent.
“Now we have a group that stands up and talks about the evils of bigger government and it becomes the battle cry every time we want to spend money on a poor person, or a sick person, or an elderly person,” Lathrop says. “You know what? I have never heard anybody complain about the money we get and spend from the federal government on roads. It’s a lot.”
Lathrop says no one ever declines farm subsidies in federal farm legislation, but he says that’s good policy. He says crop insurance is subsidized and adds, you couldn’t buy it in the U.S. without federal help. He says the same opponents to federal spending can’t be found when talking about supporting water projects. Lathrop says those railing against the federal government simply boil it down to two things, fewer employees and less money.
Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha asked Senator Kintner if he’s opposed to federal farm subsidies.
“That’s federal money entirely going to Nebraska farmers,” Chambers says. “Are you against them taking this federal money?”
Kintner responded: “I don’t know. I don’t know the program well enough. I don’t know what it does.”
Chambers replied: “You just demonstrated your courage on that one,” and then described Kintner’s position as “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
“When people stand on this floor and make all of these nonsensical statements about big government and they don’t even know what they mean,” Chambers says. “They read it and hear it in the Teapot Party publications. I believe that every one of those teapots is cracked.”
Senator Kay Bolz of Lincoln introduced the measure to create the Aging Nebraskans Task Force. Bolz says she expects the cost of her bill to decrease, in part by changing some of the staffing required by the bill. The money would be used for existing home and community-based services, such as adult day care or respite services. Legislators voted 31-11 to move the bill to the second round of debate.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice