As the end of the year approaches, we’re looking toward the 2019 legislative session. The 106th Nebraska Legislature, First Session, will convene January 9 for 90 days, marking the beginning of a new biennium that includes passing a two-year state budget.
Joining the Legislature in 2019 will be 13 new senators. With a quarter of the body new, we expect both the Education and Health and Human Services committees, which hear the majority of bills affecting early childhood education, to have some new faces.
Bill Introductions, Committee Assignments
During the first 10 days of the session, senators will introduce bills, elect committee chairs and receive committee assignments. Governor Ricketts is expected to submit his proposed biennial budget to the Legislature in mid-January. The Speaker of the Legislature will introduce the proposal as three separate bills and they will be referred to the Appropriations Committee before they go before the full body.
Factoring into the budget discussion will be the Nebraska Economic Advisory Board’s recent vote to raise revenue projections. Projected revenue receipts for FY18-19 were raised to $4.8 billion, for FY19-20 they were raised to $4.89 billion, and for FY20-21, they were raised to $5 billion. Despite these increases, crafting the biennium budget will be one of the most complex and contentious issues this session, especially because the Legislature will need to consider the budgetary impact of Initiative 47 (Medicaid expansion) passed by voters in the recent midterm election.
Taxes, Prisons Among Key Issues
In addition to the budget, other issues likely to be debated are the state’s tax incentive programs, which will expire at the end of 2020; property tax reform; Nebraska’s overcrowded prisons; changes to the TEEOSA (K-12 school funding) formula; and workforce development. Although most of these issues are not new, senator turnover due to term limits greatly contributes to the loss of institutional knowledge.
As always, First Five Nebraska will continue to support well-designed and fiscally responsible policies that provide quality learning environments for our youngest Nebraskans, and also help communities build an early childhood infrastructure that will attract and retain young working families.
Track Bills on Our Website
Follow bills with potential to affect early childhood this session on our website’s Nebraska Legislation page. We update bill status and produce a downloadable/printable report daily during the session.