Heath Mello

Former Senator

Omaha, NE

Heath Mello was elected to the Nebraska Legislature in 2008. Heath currently chairs the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee and also serves on the Nebraska Retirement Systems, Legislative Performance Audit, Building Maintenance, Planning Committee and Executive Board.

Outside of the Legislature, Heath is the Coordinator of Community Affairs and Outreach for Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, working to build and strengthen the college’s relations with the community. Prior to his election, Heath served as a Senior Aide to U.S. Senator Ben Nelson. As an aide to Senator Nelson, he worked to meet the needs of Nebraska’s communities, businesses and non-profit organizations.

Pro-Growth Progressive Ideas Shared

Problem

Several parts of Nebraska, including Omaha, suffer from greater unemployment rates than the rest of the state but the state has limited resources allocated to economic development programs.

Solution

Senator Mello authored legislation to reauthorize Nebraska’s enterprise zone statutes to encourage investment and economic growth by giving preference for projects in economically distressed communities. Rather than creating a new economic development program, this innovative idea focuses existing resources where the need is greatest for the largest economic return. By giving these areas a leg up on programs like job training and affordable housing funds, these communities are able to better prepare citizens with the skills and support they need to become self-sufficient and contribute to the state economy.


Problem

Nebraska is still struggling from a slow recovery after the recession, with high poverty and unemployment rates across the state. A state-wide strategic policy blueprint is needed for the legislature to increase the accountability and efficiency of state efforts to mitigate poverty.

Solution

Senator Mello has proposed establishing a bipartisan, interbranch task force to evaluate and identify programs to enable the state government to invest in initiatives that are working to reduce poverty across the state. By using data to fund what works, the legislature will be able to improve the effectiveness of its impact on intergenerational poverty and boost economic growth across the state that benefits everyone.


Problem

Pensions that are underfunded at the city and county level are often a major driver of local budget shortfalls.

Solution

Senator Mello proposed legislation this year requiring local pension plans that are underfunded or underwater to file a report with the Legislature analyzing the plan's condition and identifying potential solutions. By providing state oversight of local pension plans, the policy encourages local governments to adopt best practices and creates a positive, long-term impact on local budgets.