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Last week we passed the 73rd day of the legislative session. We are currently working on the state’s $8.9 billion budget package. Nebraska’s state budget is structured on a two-year basis, with emergency budget sessions called as necessary.
Gering Senator John Stinner and the Appropriations Committee has spent months preparing the budget proposal, even going so far as to prepare a “mini-budget” earlier in the session to address the shortfall we were facing at the time.
This is a long process. The goal is prepare a balanced budget that encourages growth without being a burden on Nebraska tax-payers.
Among other provisions, the budget includes increases to educational funding through the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA) of $62.4 million, $35.6 million for Medicaid, and $15.4 million for the Department of Corrections.
The proposed budget would cut $24.7 million to other state agencies and $13 million to the university system, among other cuts.
There is still a lot of work left to do and over the next week I expect this issue to take us well into the evenings. The budget should be passed by May 10 and sent to the Governor for his signature.
On another topic, I’m proud to announce my priority bill, LB 506 – the Compassion and Care for Medically Challenging Pregnancies Act – was signed into law by Governor Ricketts last week.
As prenatal testing becomes increasingly routine and diagnostic methods have improved significantly over the last few years, more fetal anomalies are being detected. In these very rare, but tragic circumstances, parents are given minimal options.
No parent prepares to hear the news that the child they are carrying is going to die before or shortly after birth. Until today, families in this heartbreaking situation had to leave their doctor’s office in shock with no help, no hope, and feeling they have nowhere to turn.
Perinatal hospice is an innovative and compassionate model of support for families who find out a pregnancy has a life-limiting condition. This support helps parents embrace whatever life their baby might be able to have and also enables families to make meaningful plans to honor their child.
This care begins at diagnosis and continues through the baby’s birth and death.
Unfortunately, many parents faced with this horrible situation find themselves adrift without a life raft and having to find out for themselves what resources there are.
The purpose of this bill is to raise awareness of perinatal hospice care and provide readily available information to help women and families through one of life’s most difficult stages.
That is why I introduced LB 506 and that is why I’m proud to have worked with so many who helped make today possible.
Over the last few months I have had wonderful, eye-opening and emotional conversations with experts, medical professionals, and families. The most challenging situation faced by mothers should be met with the most readily available information, compassion and care.