Bill would document federal funds

The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee heard testimony Feb. 21 on a bill that would create an inventory of all state agencies that receive federal money.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist48' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. John Stinner'>Sen. John Stinner</a>
Sen. John Stinner

LB337, introduced by Sen. John Stinner of Gering, would require the state Department of Administrative Services to create a list of all state agencies receiving federal funds, document requirements associated with federal grants and develop a contingency plan in case of a reduction in federal funding.

“The attempt behind this legislation is to provide a reporting mechanism to hedge against any fiscal stress further down the road,” Stinner said. “It’s imperative we understand the complexities around any federal program.”

Sarah Curry of the Platte Institute testified in support of the bill. There are 33 state agencies that receive federal dollars, including eight that rely on federal funds for more than 50 percent of their budgets, Curry said.

She said the recent partial federal government shutdown demonstrated the need for better accounting and planning.

“The scary part is that state government officials didn’t know the details of the federal funding, so it was very difficult to prepare. States cannot clearly see where federal money is going in their state,” Curry said, “and Nebraska is no exception.”

State budget administrator Gerry Oligmueller testified against the bill. Reporting on requirements associated with federal funds is important, he said, but LB337 would conflict with current law and create added costs.

“Biennial budget instructions issued to state agencies, boards and commissions specifically require reporting on the use of federal funds to the governor and the Legislature,” Oligmueller said.

The committee took no immediate action on LB337.

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