passed select file debate on to final reading on March 28, 2018. The bill contains important funding for child welfare, property tax relief, funding for developmental disabilities, higher education, and much more.
Important funding priorities were included in the budget this year. $55 million dollars in funding for services to meet demand in child welfare are appropriated. The budget provides funding for property tax relief for seniors and individuals with disabilities through the homestead exemption. The bill provides funding to developmental disability providers to make up for lost federal funds, needed resources for school funding, and dollars needed to shore up Medicaid services to respond to changes on the federal level.
Moreover, the budget bill pulls back significant cuts to higher education proposed by the Administration. While I would have liked to avoid cuts to higher education entirely, the changes made by the Appropriations Committee help to protect the missions of our University system, State College system, and community colleges into the future.
The bill passed after considerable debate on Title X federal family planning funds. A compromise was negotiated to move the important budget package forward. Title X funds provide important services to 28,000 Nebraskans including preventative health care, cancer screenings, and prenatal care. LB 944 contains changes to the distribution of these funds. Some existing providers will have to change to comply with these changes which require legal, financial, and physical separation between organizations providing abortions and those providing Title X services. Other providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, will continue to be able to provide services in the same manner they have previously.
In my work on the budget, I have done by best to balance the important priorities in the budget, the interests of multiple constituents, the value of higher education, the importance of ensuring that Title X services will be able to continue in Nebraska, and the long term fiscal sustainability of the state, and I appreciate the constituent correspondence on all of these issues.