A compromise on aid to children living in poverty moves forward in the Unicameral, though questions arise about the process that brought it back before legislators.
State lawmakers have given preliminary approval to the compromise reached after Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed LB 89, which proposed increasing aid provided poor families in Nebraska. The governor said the legislature failed to ensure the sustainability of the federal Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) program that is provided to approximately 6,000 Nebraska families.
Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins questions the route the bill took.
“So, we passed a bill. The governor vetoed a bill. And then, ‘Oh, we can negotiate that,’” Bloomfield tells fellow senators during legislative floor debate. “Colleagues, I believe that’s improper.”
Sen. Kathy Campbell of Lincoln acknowledges it’s unusual to enter discussions after a veto.
“The letter that the governor sent on the veto, left an open door,” Campbell says. “And, sometimes you have to step through or see whether the door is really open.”
Legislators gutted LB 607 and inserted the compromise language, then gave the legislation preliminary approval.
Campbell agreed to reduce the increase proposed in her legislation from 60% to 55%. The aid also will be tied in the future to the rate of inflation through the Consumer Price Index. Aid will gradually decrease if family income rises, ending the so-called cliff effect that could cut off funding completely if a parent received a raise or got a better paying job.
The practical effect of the legislation would be that a Nebraska family of three receiving ADC would get around $72 more a month.
Nebraska budgets for about 6,400 families a year, yet rarely distributes federal aid for that number. Normally, according to Campbell, about 5,900 families receive the aid.
Over the years, Nebraska has accumulated a reserve totaling $68 million.
Gov. Ricketts expressed concern that the increase contained in the original bill could drain that reserve in less than 10 years. The adjustments agreed to by Campbell, should reduce, but not eliminate that accumulation of federal block grant funds in 10 years.
Nebraska families receiving ADC haven’t seen an increase in aid since 1985.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:55]