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I just wrapped up my third year on the Appropriations Committee! I knew when I entered the Legislature that if I wanted to make a direct difference for District 7, I had to go to the committee that makes some of the most consequential decisions for our state. I have worked during my time on Appropriations to provide a voice not often heard in the budget process — the voice of the son of Peruvian immigrants with working class roots, a first generation college graduate, a millennial legislator, a former teacher, and a young, newly minted father, representing a growing district whose concerns were largely absent when setting a statewide budget.
You’ll often hear that a budget is not just numbers, it is also a value statement. This year, I am proud that our committee put together a budget that provides important funding for not only early education and the greater K-12 system, but also for higher education in the forms of the Nebraska State College System, Nebraska Community Colleges and the University of Nebraska. We provided important reimbursement rates for our nursing care, behavioral/mental health, child welfare, and development disability providers. We promoted fiscal restraint by attempting to shore up our cash reserves for future generations. This committee made a distinct effort to understand how the budget effects every-day Nebraskans, and I am proud of our product. Too often, the budget debate is centered around finding programs and services to cut. This year, we managed to change the narrative by investing in programs and services to benefit Nebraska’s greatest natural resource: our people.
For me, the budget is emblematic of the fact that when you have a seat at the table, your voice can be heard. And when you have nine diverse voices working together to reach a compromise, you can pass a strong budget for Nebraska.