Prioritizing Families in Nebraska’s State Budget

kidsThere are incredible children in my life. My little friends draw me pictures of reindeer and teach me how to do pirouettes. They remind me about what really matters – things like friends, family, good teachers, and afterschool snacks.

The kids in my life don’t know what an appropriation is or what the term revenue forecast means. They do know what it is like to have a good day at daycare, a full plate at dinner, and how important it is to get the “pink medicine” when you need it. Thankfully, they do not know what it means to go without these things. Sadly, other kids in Nebraska do.

As I watch the Nebraska Legislature debate our state budget, the children in my life, and all the children in our state, weigh heavily on my mind.

Budget discussions continue. Difficult decisions must be made this year. Negative cost-savings options continue to be debated. Good cost-savings options still need to be fought for and won. The conversation moves forward. But the question remains, will we protect the needs of children in Nebraska’s state budget?

In this discussion, one way to care for the needs of children and families comes quite clear: protect funds for child care assistance. LB 464 is a bill that would permanently remove the minimum reimbursement rates for child care providers who care for children from low-income families who receive assistance from Nebraska’s child care assistance program. This bill would make it more difficult for providers to be able to afford to care for children who are most at risk of failing in school, and would likely decrease access to care for low income families. The Appropriations Committee is grappling with this bill and is likely to make a final decision next week.

See Nebraska Appleseed’s testimony in opposition to this change and the Lincoln Journal Star’s editorial opposing the bill.  While an amendment has been proposed that would freeze rates at current levels, rather than removing the minimum reimbursement level entirely, the truth remains: we should not find savings in our state’s budget on the back of children and families.

Are you inspired by the children in your life to tell Nebraska’s State Senators to appropriate adequate funds for child care providers? If so, call your State Senator today.  You can also learn more about the bill at the Center for People in Need’s legislative information page.

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