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Dorn: State funds will be hot topic at next session

Dorn: State funds will be hot topic at next session

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Dorn

Myron Dorn

It is officially summer, with the longest day of the year behind us. Of course, it had felt like summer for several weeks with hot and windy weather creating challenges for crops, livestock and people. Then the rain came in abundance, resulting in other problems. In other words, typical Nebraska.

We are less than a month away from the Legislature coming back into session. At this time, we are set to convene on July 20 and meet for 17 days, finishing up in mid-August. The Legislative coordinator has been working hard to make the floor of the Chamber meet distancing guidelines, and the building will be ready to accommodate the session.

One positive aspect about this long recess is that it has provided additional time to consider and work through some legislative topics. Of course, the opposite is also true, because now there are more issues and a greatly impacted budget to tackle.

Any measures that require funding will be contingent on federal subsidies flowing in, State of Nebraska revenue and the projections of the Forecasting Board, which will meet on July 23.

Regarding revenue coming into the state, Nebraska’s income tax is tied to the federal income tax. In the CARES act funding, several adjustments were made to the federal income tax and those adjustments are projected to have a net loss of revenue for Nebraska in the coming fiscal year, FY20-21, of over $125 million; $67 million in FY21-22, and $57 million in FY22-23. The Revenue Committee received that data on June 16 from the Nebraska Department of Revenue. The Committee has not yet decided on a course of action to be presented to the Legislature to deal with that shortfall.

We know our state’s citizens are sturdy and resilient, but it is always good to lend a helping hand or ask for help when it is needed in these current times. You can find a list of all state departments and divisions at www.nebraska.gov and links to federal programs at www.usa.gov. Specific to agriculture producers in District 30, go to www.farmers.gov. I encourage you to scroll through the options on these sites. If you cannot find what you need, contact my office and we will point you in the right direction.

County and local government agencies and private organizations are also working together to meet health, economic and social needs. A good place to start might be to place a call to 2-1-1. This is not an emergency number, but it will connect you to a wide variety of resources.

Through the federal programs, additional SNAP benefits are now available. Families who are already participating in SNAP do not need to apply and will have their benefits automatically placed on their EBT card. Families who are not currently participating in SNAP but have been determined eligible by their schools to receive free or reduced-priced lunches will need to apply for P-EBT through the P-EBT online application and will receive a specific “P-EBT” card.

A family’s address must be registered with the post office to ensure delivery of the P-EBT card. The application period will run from June 22, 2020 to July 19, 2020. Families who do not have access to the internet to apply online can call the ACCESSNebraska hotline at 800-383-4278 to apply or stop by participating food banks that can help fill out applications in person.

The past few months have shown us ways to adapt to our circumstances and improve access to services such as tele-health. At the same time, situations that need our attention, such as accessible broadband, have been revealed. It is my hope that we will retain the good, and work diligently to improve the health, race and social, and economic concerns facing all of us in the months ahead.

Please contact my office if we can be of assistance, at 402-471-2620 to leave a message, or email me at mdorn@leg.ne.gov.

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