State lawmakers have advanced a bill that would shift money within the Department of Health and Human Services to keep the Division of Child Welfare from running out of money.
Senator Health Mello of Omaha, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, brings an amendment before the Unicameral to provide Child Welfare with $7 million dollars.
“I don’t want anyone in this body to take this amendment lightly, because the reality is that if we don’t pass this amendment today, Child Welfare will shut down April 15th,” Mello warns colleagues during legislative floor debate.
Mello blames poor budgeting by the division for the shortage. He says he doesn’t know yet how this will affect the DHHS budget for the upcoming budget.
“What we have in front of us right now is that first step that if we don’t move forward and provide this emergency deficit request, for the first time that anyone can remember we will have government shut down effectively in the Division of Child Welfare,” according to Mello.
The measure would shift money from Public Assistance to Child Welfare aid.
Mello tells colleagues the action only emphasizes the deep problems within the Department of Health and Human Services.
“It sets the stage for what we all know lies ahead with the Department of Health and Human Services; that there are significant challenges in that agency, particularly in light of Child Welfare,” Mello says. “And that while we have a small change today and a small cash-flow related request to ensure that program doesn’t shut down on April 15th, we have a lot of heavy lifting still to do moving forward as we finalize this year’s budget.”
AUDIO: Appropriations Committee chairman, Sen. Heath Mello, discusses Child Welfare Division emergency funding request. [4:15]