Most Nebraska state senators mean well. They really do. But then, occasionally, you get a state senator who could probably better serve the people of Nebraska by leaving the Lege and going into the used car business.
Senator Lavon Heideman comes to mind.
Senator Heideman, in his esteemed position as chair of the appropriations committee, took the sneaky-but-legal action last week of choosing the committee’s priority bill without consulting any other members of the committee.
Senator Heideman knew if he did the honorable thing and actually asked members of his committee for input before selecting the committee’s priority bill, some of them would vehemently disagree with his lousy choice. Which makes him not only sneaky, but cowardly.
Senator Heideman’s one-man selection of a committee priority bill happens to be a “request” from Governor Heineman to jerk the day-care safety blanket out from under impoverished children. Right now, Nebraska has the lowest reimbursement rate in the entire nation for subsidizing day care services for children in low-income working families. Governor Heineman wants to take it even lower.
If you are a child care provider and you accept children of low-income families eligible for government-subsidized day care in Nebraska, by state law you only receive 60 percent of the going rate. And you only receive payment 45 to 60 days after you have already provided the service to the children. And you only receive payment if you fill out the proper paperwork confirming the child was actually in your care. And you only receive payment if, after HHS turns down your paperwork and denies your claim, you fill out more paperwork to appeal their denial. And you only receive payment if … you get the drift.
Governor Heineman wants to “balance the budget” by dropping that 60 percent floor on reimbursement levels to no floor at all. Senator Heideman has dutifully prioritized Heineman’s plan to shove children down the rabbit hole, for a “saving” of less than one-tenth of one percent of the 2.9 billion-dollar Health and Human Services budget. And it’s all on the backs of children under age five.
Frankly, it never ceases to amaze me how grown men of certain political persuasions love children so much that they make all sorts of laws protecting them, at least until they are born. After birth, tough crap, kids. Get a job.
Meanwhile, day care providers are doing their best to pay their bills while serving Nebraska’s working families as early childhood educators, psychologists, socializers, mentors to young parents, caseworkers when support systems break down, maintenance persons when a mom’s car breaks down, shoulders to cry on, potty trainers, huggers, song singers, story readers, and master architects of a child’s early years.
On the day Senator Heideman’s appropriations committee held a public hearing on his self-chosen priority bill that craps on kids, the good senator was conveniently absent. He didn’t have the balls to appear in person to listen to the pleas of child care providers and child development specialists who know for a fact, as does the good senator, that this is bad legislation and bad public policy.
What a sneaky suck-up wussy.