Government Military and Veterans Affairs

Proposal would end unfunded mandates

The Nebraska Legislature would be required to provide full reimbursement to political subdivisions for any new program or expansion of an existing program under a proposed constitutional amendment heard Jan. 28 by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Sen. Carol Blood
Sen. Carol Blood

LR263CA, sponsored by Bellevue Sen. Carol Blood, would require, beginning in 2023, that the state pay the full costs of new programs or increased levels of service required under an existing program either through general fund appropriations or an increase in state distribution of revenue to the impacted political subdivision.

If approved by lawmakers, the proposal would be placed on the ballot for voter approval in the 2022 general election.

Blood said the proposal would eliminate future “unfunded mandates,” such as the state requiring county jails to house state prisoners without full reimbursement.

“When we place an unfunded mandate on our counties, they have few options when it comes to paying for those mandates, outside of property taxes,” she said.

Don Kelly, chair of the Sarpy County Board of Commissioners, testified in support of LR263CA. He said many measures passed by the Legislature are worthy but also costly to counties. The cost of unfunded mandates in Sarpy County has increased from $5 million in 2013 to nearly $10 million currently, Kelly said.

Jon Cannon, executive director of the Nebraska Association of County Officials, also testified in support of the resolution.

“There are duties that we are given, and there are limited means we have of raising the revenue necessary for accomplishing those duties,” Cannon said. “We’re taking care of the roads, bridges, law enforcement, jails, courts and elections. Those are some duties that people in the state think are pretty darn important.”

No one testified in opposition to LR263CA and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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