Thu January 3, 2013
Budget, health care issues before lawmakers during upcoming session
The Nebraska Legislature returns to session next week to begin the process of putting together a new two-year budget.
Nebraska’s 49 Senators return to Lincoln on Wednesday. State Senator Heath Mello, who represents south Omaha’s District 5, expects many of the issues the Unicameral will deal with this session to be fiscally-related.
“The fiscal picture looks significantly better than it has the last four years, but no doubt we have to find 200 million dollars in budget cuts at the state level. And ultimately, that has real-world implications in terms of its impact on seniors, impact on children, on those who are disabled.”
Mello serves on the Appropriations Committee. He says it’s been difficult in the previous biennia to come up with a balanced budget, as Nebraska law requires.
Another issue likely to come before state lawmakers is expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Mello says that could save the state money long-term. Nebraska plans to participate in a federally-run health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act at a cost of $176 million. Governor Dave Heineman is opposed to expanding Medicaid under the act, saying it’s too costly.
Mello says he also wants to focus on education funding, renewable energy, and job creation during the upcoming legislative session.