Gov. Pete Ricketts defends his veto of a bill intended to give needy families a boost in monthly income.
Ricketts says he sympathizes with the intent, but calls the legislative solution unsustainable.
“But LB 89 was proposing to bankrupt the very reserve fund that is helping to make sure that we’re taking care of these people. When you looked out to 2020, we’d be running out of money,” Ricketts tells reporters during a news conference. “And so, we need to come up with solutions that are sustainable. Something that can last much longer than just running all the money out in four years.”
LB 89 proposed increasing the monthly allocation to families receiving Aid to Dependent Children by about $112 a month. The $8.3 million increase would be paid through federal funds.
Ricketts has called it well intentioned, yet unsustainable.
The Unicameral approved LB 89 on a 30-15 vote, which would be just enough votes necessary to override the governor’s veto. An override attempt could be made next week.
Ricketts claims the measure would drain the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant reserve by 2020.
“Well, certainly again we have a reserve here. Part of that reserve comes from just leaving some cushion when we’re taking care of folks. Also, some of it comes from the one-time grants we got from the stimulus money,” Ricketts says. “So, I agree with proponents, we can do a better job of utilizing that reserve. However, I think it’s shortsighted to use it all up in four years and then have nothing left.”
Though he proposed no alternative, the governor says he is willing to work with state senators and the Health and Human Services Committee on a compromise. Ricketts also says he wants new Health and Human Services CEO Courtney Phillips to weigh in on the discussion.