ARPA bill passes, senators override budget vetoes

Yesterday, senators passed LB 1014, which officially allocates the over $1 billion the state will receive in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). While criticized by some senators for failing to target Nebraskans in need, the final version of the bill does include:

  • $20 million for food assistance, with most of that going to food banks for the purchase and distribution of food to those experiencing food insecurity.

  • $8 million for a grant program to nonprofits to develop affordable housing for immigrants and refugees and provide job training and placement.

  • $250 million for economic recovery across the state, much of it reserved for grants to public and private entities for recovery projects in low income census tracts and for the development of affordable housing. 

  • $20 million for low income housing tax credits for the development of low income rental housing across the state.

  • $10 million for workforce housing in rural areas.

  • $10 million for worker training programs administered by the Department of Labor.

  • Funding for reimbursement rate increases for healthcare providers in several industries, including developmental and behavioral disability support services.

  • $4 million for the Department of Health and Human Services to increase childcare capacity across the state.

  • $1 million for the Department of Health and Human Services for support services for youth aging out of foster care.

The Governor now has until Wednesday to sign the bill or return it to senators with line-item vetoes. Stay tuned for potential veto override votes. 

Senators override Governor’s line-item budget vetoes

Senators voted yesterday to override most of the Governor’s line-item vetoes of the budget adjustment bills and restore the budget to what was recommended by the Appropriations Committee. This means restoration of:

  • A 15% increase in provider rates for healthcare and social services provided through the state (the Governor wanted only a 5% increase).
  • $15 million for corrections funding for vocational and life skills programming and restorative justice programs.
  • $40 million for affordable workforce housing in urban areas.

Here’s how they voted. If you work in these areas, make sure your senator knows you appreciate their commitment to overriding these vetoes and restoring this funding.

Rental assistance bill fails by one vote

Unfortunately, LB 1073– the bill to require the state to apply for a second round of emergency rental assistance- failed to receive enough votes to override the Governor’s veto, falling just one vote short of the needed 30 votes. If senators had overridden the veto, at least $50 million would have been available for rural Nebraska to use on rental and utility assistance.

However, recent guidance from the Treasury Department says that $70 million of the original $120 million reserved for Nebraska will be reallocated to Omaha and Lincoln. For now, the $50 million left is still available for rural Nebraska to use if the Governor chooses to apply.

Here’s how they voted. Remember to contact your senator to thank them for their support if they voted yes! 

Thank you to all the advocates and organizations involved in advocacy on this issue this session. Several senators mentioned the outpouring of support from nonprofits from their districts.