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Nebraska Legislature overrides Ricketts veto of SNAP benefits

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 3:18 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The score today from the Nebraska Legislature: Senators 3, Gov. Pete Rickets 0. Legislators had the votes to override three bills the governor opposed, including one expanding food benefits.

For more than a year, the lines outside food pantries have been long. Even as the number of vaccinations rises, and unemployment drops, food insecurity looms.

Cassandra Walker shared with 6 News the dilemma facing her and many others getting SNAP benefits — if she starts to make too much money at her job, she can lose the benefit. And then it’s a struggle all over again.

“It’s really sad because they have no idea what us middle-class or poor people go through,” she said.

State Sen. Terrell McKinney of Omaha said, “There people aren’t lazy. They need these resources. If you speak from a place of privilege, and you never grew up poor, have some empathy.”

A number of senators lined up to override Ricketts’ veto. They explained why expanding the income threshold to qualify for SNAP benefits is necessary. It’s federal dollars, not from Nebraska’s budget. Senators reminded their colleagues there’s such a thing as “the working poor.”

“I get really sick and tired of all this nonsense about folks on the program being lazy, can’t get off their mother’s couch for a job,” said State Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln. “What a bunch of nonsense.”

Other senators echoed the statement from the governor.

“I want to help folks. I’ll teach them how to fish,” State Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte said. “I don’t want to give them a big fat fish like a cod or they’ll get lazy.”

State Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard: “there are thousands of good-paying jobs out there if they’re willing to work. Let’s stop receiving all the benefits from the government.”

Ricketts needed four senators to change their minds. Three did. The bill to expand food benefits becomes law.

“These people we’re trying to help are the working poor. They’re at McDonald’s and Walmart at minimum wages — often disabled — and we need to help them,” State Sen. John McCollister of Omaha said.

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