Every two years, Nebraska’s Legislature sets a budget for the next two years deciding which programs to fund and at what levels. We spend a lot of time looking at a variety of crucial bills, but when push comes to shove Nebraska’s budget is the single most important one for children and families.
For over a decade, the Legislature has consistently made cuts in crucial programs that benefit kids and families. Last year’s budget debate was no exception. While damage in some areas was minimized, there were still cuts to children’s behavioral health aid, child care subsidies, and education.
Every non-budget year, the Legislature comes back to reassess and make adjustments based on financial resources that are available. Just last week the Appropriations Committee released a full report and sent their preliminary budget adjustments to General File for debate. Kids seem to have fared pretty well, especially when we consider the cuts they’ve faced in other years. Included in the Appropriations recommendations was:
- $7.2 million back into TEEOSA, our state aid formula for schools;
- $9.7 million to restore part of the cut made to reimbursements to providers for Medicaid services. Fair reimbursement rates improve access to quality health care for children on Medicaid;
- $37.1 million for child welfare shortfalls related to increased costs from privatization and additional dollars to establish best practice caseload standards.
- No additional cuts to Medicaid services (DHHS proposed a number of cuts that were rejected).
- $24 million to make up for a shortfall in the child care subsidy program.
Overall, kids seemed to have fared well in the budget adjustments: dangerous cuts were prevented, needed resourced were provided, and new dollars were put towards the child welfare system. The budget still faces a few rounds of debate, so we’ll be watching to make sure programs for vulnerable children and families are protected.