Nebraska's oft-criticized safety net for people with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities may get a small funding increase next year despite Gov. Dave Heineman's recommendation to keep funding flat.
The Legislature's budget-writing Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to increase state funding to groups that care for the developmentally disabled by 1 percent, a move one official said could keep their doors open and serve the same number of people they are now.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, must come up with spending cuts to offset the funding increase proposed during the state's worst fiscal crisis in recent memory.
Providers had sharply criticized Heineman's plan to keep funding flat next year because it came at the same time his administration is trying to move people out of institutions and into community-based programs. His proposal is one of dozens of proposed changes to the budget during the ongoing special legislative session intended to decrease state spending by $334 million to address falling state revenues.
"It doesn't sound like much, but it will help groups stave off a financial crisis," said Zavodny, president of a state association of organizations that serve the mentally disabled. In addition to the 1 percent increase, the Appropriations Committee set aside $500,000 to help boost pay to providers of services to the developmentally disabled.
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Some Neb.Caregivers May be in for Raise