LINCOLN — State lawmakers battled Wednesday over a proposal aimed at employing Nebraskans who qualify for welfare.
Legislative Bill 368 won first-round approval.
Supporters argued that similar programs in other states have proved successful in getting people into the workforce and help businesses expand at minimal risk.
State Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue, who sponsored the bill, said people leave such programs with job experience that is critical in helping them increase their earning potential.
Opponents derided it as another government program that would interfere with the free market.
“It’s more of a ticket to Loserville,” Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion said.
The bill provides for a pilot program in which the state would subsidize employment for parents or young people who make up to 200 percent of the poverty level. The subsidies would start at 100 percent for two months and go to zero over the following four months.
Crawford said the pilot program would last for four years and be available for up to 180 people per year.
Money for the subsidies would come from federal funds now held in reserve by the state.
The reserve built up during years when federal block grant funds for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program exceeded the need for the program.
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