Nebraska Gov Pete Ricketts continues to say “no” to the state applying for another $120-million dollars to help individuals pay for utilities and rent. Nebraska and Arkansas are the only states that haven’t applied for the emergency aid.
The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee unanimously signed a letter urging the governor to apply by the program’s March 31st deadline, citing a 23% increase in calls from outside Lincoln and Omaha to a statewide rent and utility helpline.
They said the extra federal money would help landlords, who actually get the aid payments, and bring the state another $7-million dollars in interest – leading the senators to call it “simply sound fiscal and social policy” for the state to apply.
Ricketts, though, told a Monday news conference he sees no “justification” for the state to apply given signs the COVID-triggered emergency has passed and the state’s record-low unemployment.
Ricketts said Nebraska received $200-million dollars in the first round of federal rental assistance funding and 42% of that money still hasn’t been used. $158-million was for rural areas only with the other $42-million for the Lincoln-Omaha area.