LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – A bill allowing more Nebraska families to continue to qualify for a child care subsidy as they transition out of poverty won first-round approval from state lawmakers yesterday.
The vote was 25-7, the minimum number of yes votes needed to advance. The bill won’t come up for a final vote until the main budget adjustments are voted on this spring.
Currently, people qualify for more than $12,000 in child care subsidies if their income is low enough – below about $28,000 for a family of 3. If they get a job that puts their income between that and about $40,000 they can continue to receive reduced subsidies for up to 2 years.
Senator Kate Bolz of Lincoln says lost subsidy is often greater than the higher income from the new job. Her bill allows recipients to claim “transitional child care assistance” if they earn up to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
The current eligibility level stops at 185% or $40,000 for a family of 3 and $47,000 for a family of 4. The bill raises those to $43,400 and $52,400.
47th District State Senator Steve Erdman of Bayard, whose 10-county district covers part of the Sandhills and nearly the entire Panhandle – including Sioux and western Box Butte counties – voted against the bill after saying the $43,400 limit is too high because it’s more than most of his constituents earn.