The Governor’s Budget Proposal released today highlights the difficult situation that our state is in. Nebraska faces a significant budget shortfall and will have to make tough choices in the coming weeks and months about how to balance the budget while still meeting the needs of our communities.
As our Governor and our Legislature work to make these choices, Voices for Children hopes that they will make children and families a priority and take a balanced approach to addressing the budget shortfall that takes into account revenue issues. All Nebraska children should have their basic needs met and should not have to choose between being healthy and being educated. Our state’s budget lays the groundwork for creating a healthy and safe environment for children and families and several items in the Governor’s Budget Proposal raise concerns. In particular, Voices for Children is concerned about:
- The redistribution of over $4 million in state and federal funding for child welfare at a time when the system is struggling. There is substantial confusion surrounding several categories that have reallocated. Savings to the state through staff reductions should be redirected to help stabilize the current system.
- Reductions to critical new behavioral health services like the Family Navigator and Children’s Helpline that are just beginning to become an effective part of the state behavioral health system.
- Cuts to provider rates for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which could decrease access, especially in rural communities.
- Increases in Medicaid co‐pays at a time when many families are already struggling to pay for health care needs.
“The state has some difficult choices to make, but these choices shouldn’t come at the expense of Nebraska’s children and working families,” said Carolyn Rooker, Executive Director of Voices for Children. “We need to prioritize children and families and think about the long‐term impact that these budget decisions will have on them. We need all our children to be healthy, educated and safe. The foundation that we establish for them today impacts their long‐term success and ultimately the prosperity of our state.”