***UPDATE 4/23/18: LB768 and LB880 were amended into LB873 on March 20. On April 18, LB873 passed Final Reading in the state Legislature. On April 23, Governor Ricketts vetoed LB873 and returned it to the Legislature without his signature, citing opposition to components of the omnibus bill allowing expansion of the use of land banks outside of Douglas and Sarpy counties. The gubernatorial veto on LB873 essentially halts progress on the portions of the bill relating to early childhood infrastructure and local economic development. Dividends remains supportive of the original intent of LB768 and LB880 and will continue to look for opportunities to promote these concepts in future legislative activity.***
Dividends Nebraska Director Drew Theophilus addressed the Nebraska Legislature's Urban Affairs Committee on January 16, 2018 to testify in favor of two new bills that connect early childhood to local economic development.
LB768, introduced by Senator Dan Quick (Legislative District 35) is designed to amend the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act which allows communities to earmark public funds for local infrastructure projects. Presently, the Act allows such funds to be loaned or granted to qualifying businesses, subsidize job training programs, provide relocation incentives and other purposes. LB768 adds early childhood programming as an allowable use for economic development funds on the grounds that such programs constitute an important part of community infrastructure.
"Communities are more likely to cultivate and retain a skilled and competitive talent pool if young, working families have access to reliable, well-managed child care services," said Mr. Theophilus during the committee hearing. "These services decrease absenteeism and increase workplace productivity, which benefits the bottom line of employers." He added that quality early care and learning programming also improves children's developmental and academic outcomes, putting them on the path to acquire marketable skills that they will one day add to the state's future workforce.
"LB768 offers communities greater flexibility to make their own decisions about how to invest local economic development funds, while promoting accountability for such dollars committed to early care and learning. This constitutes responsible policy and makes good economic sense."
Drew Theophilus - Director, Dividends Nebraska
The Urban Affairs Committee also heard Dividends Nebraska's testimony in support of LB880, introduced by Senator Matt Hansen (Legislative District 26), which seeks to embed early childhood into cities' comprehensive plans for development. The bill requires Nebraska cities to assess their existing early childhood infrastructure, identify gaps and promote relevant measures to address the needs of the community.
According to Mr. Theophilus, both bills spoke to the ideals of local control, fiscal accountability and responsible investment that reflect the values of Dividends Nebraska and its membership.
To read Dividends Nebraska's full testimony on these bills, click the links below: