Recently, Forbes Magazine took an in-depth look at our country's current fiscal situation. The goal was to determine why so many state economies are floundering, and why so few are thriving. We can all be proud to know that Nebraska is ranked in the top three of the nation's most financially-healthy states. There are several reasons that account for this excellent ranking: We tout the least amount of per capita state debt at only $17 per individual, and our unemployment rate remains among the lowest in the country at 4.8%. Nebraska is a smart, practical, and fiscally conservative state. We understand the importance of working hard and living within our means.
Early on in my term, as I would interact with Treasurers and fiduciaries from other states, I would occasionally be questioned about Nebraska's financial practices. It seemed our State was an outsider because we steered away from things like making risky investments with our pensions plans, or bonding out state debt. I was even told at one point that Nebraska should "Come into the 1990s" and be more fiscally progressive.
As our country's financial situation deteriorated, those initial comments were quickly replaced with new inquiries, and requests for advice. Now, many states see such a bleak economic future that a government bailout is their only option. Others have resorted to sending out I.O.U.'s. You can bet that we are the envy of many state economies today. I am proud to serve and represent a people who have made such wise choices with their money and have held their elected officials to such a high standard, as well.
Of course, it is not just among state governments that there is a crisis. We know all too well that things are just as desolate on the federal level. National Review Online columnist Andrew J. Briggs provided a startling statistic in his Tuesday, March 30th column. He stated that "To balance the (national) budget over the next 25 years would require an immediate and permanent 30 percent increase in all federal taxes." Those are harrowing figures. We can clearly see the repercussions of years and years of financial irresponsibility in Washington.
Whether it be on the local, state, or federal level, we need to demand more from our chosen representatives. Here in Nebraska, our leaders have played a major role in the safeguarding of Nebraska's finances. They have made the tough choices necessary to keep Nebraska's economy intact.
I take the duty of protecting your money very seriously. Financial transparency and government accountability are two responsibilities that guide my decisions daily. Launched by my office in 2008, Nebraska currently has the most comprehensive state spending Web site in the nation; Nebraskaspending.gov.
It is no coincidence that the Nebraska is ranked so highly among healthy state economies. We've stuck to our principles; balanced budgets, conservative investments, and an open transparent government.