Child care subsidy changes amended, advanced

A bill that would disregard income when determining continued eligibility for the state’s child care subsidy program was advanced from select file March 5.

LB359, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Tanya Cook, would increase the percentage of a household’s gross earned income that must be disregarded when determining continued eligibility for the subsidy. The income disregard would be set at 10 percent upon redetermination of eligibility.

Cook offered an amendment during select file debate, adopted 33-0, that would apply the disregard after 12 continuous months on the program and at each subsequent redetermination. The amendment would clarify that the bill does not change initial eligibility for the child care subsidy program, she said, while ensuring that those on the program do not have to forego raises to continue eligibility.

“Public policy should support Nebraskans who are working hard to get off of public assistance programs,” Cook said.

Holdrege Sen. Tom Carlson supported the amendment, saying the state should pursue every opportunity to place incentives in public benefit programs that encourage people to better themselves.

Sen. Rick Kolowski of Omaha offered an amendment, adopted 27-0, that incorporated provisions from LB732, which he sponsored.

The amendment would remove 529 savings plans, student scholarships and work-study income from asset limit tests for the state’s child care subsidy program and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).

Kolowoski said the state should remove barriers that keep low-income students and families from seeking higher education.

“The premise of this amendment … is that if students save for college, no matter how small the amount may be, they are more likely to go to college,” he said.

Following adoption of the Kolowski amendment, senators advanced the bill to final reading by voice vote.

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