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Where Nebraska Stands on Assets and Opportunity for its Citizens

 

Each year, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) releases a scorecard on how individual states are serving their citizens in creating assets and opportunity, and compares state data to the United States as a whole. In 2015, CFED scorecard data shows that Nebraska ranked 17th for overall outcome and 28th for overall policy. Both outcome and policy rankings include areas of financial assets and income, businesses and jobs, housing and homeownership, health care, and education.

Outcomes in financial assets and income fair pretty well against other states and the United States as a whole, but improvements could be made with policies concerning asset limits in public assistance programs, and tax fairness, among others.

Outcomes in businesses and jobs show significant racial and gender disparities exist when it comes to business ownership and business value. Business ownership is 2.4 times as high for white workers compared to workers of color, and 1.2 times as high for men compared to women. Business value is 2.6 times as high for white business owners and 2.9 times as high for men.Furthermore, low-wage jobs make up over a quarter of available jobs, and the average annual pay is more than $5,000 below the national average at $44,356. Policy for paid leave is currently lacking, but LB 493, introduced by Senator Nordquist this legislative season, would adopt the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act, which would allow hard working Nebraskans to accrue paid sick leave. Passing LB 493 would be a huge step in right direction for policy in the workplace.

The area in which Nebraska ranked the worst for outcomes and policy was health care. For the poorest 20% in Nebraska, the uninsured rate was 6 times as high. Nationally, the uninsured rate for the poorest 20% is only 3.8 times as high. This shows that Nebraska has a lot of improvements to make in ensuring that our state’s poorest families get the health insurance that they need. If Nebraska were to reach the level of insured individuals of the best state, 13,078 more low-income children would have health insurance.

Nebraska generally does well in educational outcomes and policy; however, there is much room for improvement when it comes to policy that creates college savings incentives, particularly for low-income individuals. The number of individuals in Nebraska with a four-year degree is 4.9 times higher for individuals in the top 20% of earners. LB 281, introduced this year by Senator Kolowski, will be heard by the judiciary committee this afternoon and would create a policy that incentivizes college savings for low income families. If passed, it would allow a noncustodial parent that owes arrears to the state for child support to open a college savings account for his or her child. The state would forgive the arrears of the noncustodial parent in an amount at least equivalent to the deposit the parent makes in the college savings account. Research shows that having a college savings account greatly increases the child’s chances of attending college and successfully graduating with a degree. LB 281 would make the opportunity for obtaining higher education a possibility for many more low income children across the state.

 

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