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Nation should learn from Nebraska's succeess

Friday, October 19, 2012

The national economy is bleak. Four years after a deep recession, unemployment remains stubbornly high at 7.8 percent, and economic growth has slowed to 1.3 percent. Families and small businesses are struggling to make ends meet. As wages and benefits have been cut, prices of electricity, gas, food, and health care continue to rise. Clearly, we are not headed in the right direction.

Nebraska is a different story. During the recession, our unemployment rate peaked at 4.9 percent, and is now down to 4 percent -- about half the national rate. Our state has been recognized as one of the best places to do business in the country because of our competitive tax structure, commonsense regulatory policies, sound infrastructure, quality education, and responsible fiscal policies.

While Nebraska is doing well, there are many families struggling, and the national economy limits the growth of our businesses and the domestic market for our crops, goods, products and services. Nevertheless, our success can serve as a model for other states and the nation.

For example, Nebraska has benefitted from reduced taxes, encouraging companies and families to invest in our state. They can feel confident our rates will not rise because our state budget consistently has remained balanced without tax increases. On the other hand, the federal tax code is complicated and uncompetitive. We face the largest tax increase in American history on January 1, 2013 unless Congress acts to extend the current rates. The national debt has spiked to more than $16 trillion, and there is no plan in place to reduce our deficits, much less balance the budget or pay off our debt.

The federal government should follow Nebraska's lead to instill confidence and generate economic growth by enacting comprehensive tax reform to simplify the code. We must find a way to solve our long-term budget problems by cutting spending, focusing on our national needs and priorities, and addressing the true cost drivers of our deficits and debt. While the House-passed budget goes a long way toward answering these questions, it has yet to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Nebraska also enjoys electricity rates about 30 percent lower than the national average, which reduces overhead for energy-intense manufacturing and agriculture and makes it easier for families to pay their bills. To lower energy rates nationwide we need a national energy strategy which takes advantage of our nation's abundant natural resources, such as coal, oil, natural gas, ethanol, hydro, and wind.

We have such low utility rates in part because our state has a regulatory climate which provides environmental and consumer protection without hurting energy generation, manufacturing, or small business. The same cannot be said for federal agencies, like the EPA, which frequently overreach their authority to impose new regulations which unnecessarily increase the cost of energy.

To address this problem Congress needs to streamline the regulatory code and reassert its authority for the regulatory process. A good place to start would be the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. This commonsense policy, which passed the House of Representatives last year, would require all new major regulations to pass both chambers of Congress and be signed by the President before being enforced on the American people.

These examples are just a few of the ways Nebraska has achieved relative success compared to the nation as a whole. Washington could go a long way toward putting America back on track, reducing the burden of government, and restoring our promise and potential as a nation if it were to adopt some of our commonsense principles and policies.

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I would honestly say that Ne. doing well has little or nothing to do with tax policies, and certainly not because of politicians, but rather that the ag economy is very robust right now. But, we better hope it rains.

-- Posted by hulapopper on Fri, Oct 19, 2012, at 6:51 PM

Nebraska may have one of the lowest unemployment rates along with a balanced budget, but this alone does not equate to providing prosperous conditions for our citizens.

The U.S. Census Bureau report issued Dec. 2011 "State Government Finances Summary, 2010", details fiscal years 2009 and 2010 Federal Revenue received from each state. The report also shows the amount of Federal Funds returned to each state.

For two consecutive years Nebraska had the highest percentage of Federal Welfare Grants among all states.

In 2009 Nebraska received $1.97 billion worth of Federal Welfare Grants and contributed $2.72 billion in revenue. This equates to a 72.5% return of paid in revenue. National average for all states was 59.1%.

In 2010 Nebraska received $2.31 billion worth of Federal Welfare Grants and contributed $3.42 billion in revenue. This equates to a 73.5% return of paid in revenue. National average for all states was 56.8%

If Nebraska is doing so well, why do we have to utilize 15% more Federal Welfare Grants to meet our citizens needs?


-- Posted by Geezer on Sat, Oct 20, 2012, at 8:56 AM

I suggest that the reason that we have such high wellfare grants (if indeed we do, as I have not done the research on that) is due to the fact that few are currently willing to put in an honest days work. From what I have seen, it appears easier to put to work, one's paper shuffling abilities to get government assistance, than it is wake up 5 days a week and go to work, whatever that work happens to be.

A critical level of work ethic deficit is what I attribute ALL unemployment to.

I think that this country's issue is that the youth of modern day society has never really known what it is like to be longing. Now don't get me wrong, I think that is a good thing, in respect to the fact that we haven't known the strife that our forefathers were accustomed to, but that fact has also created a degree of laziness among us..... which is evident, that, has become a weakness for us.

Perhaps we need to practice a degree of self denial, and a heightened scale of selflessness.

I can say this, as I am in my early 40s, and this degeneration began it's sharp decline at the forthcoming of my generation. From what I can forecast, it doesn't seem to be looking up in the near future neither.

What Nebraska has over many other states in the nation, is that we are not entirely engulfed in this abyss of slothness, just on the rim of it..... for now.

What is your take on the subject?

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Sat, Oct 20, 2012, at 9:57 PM

Nebraska has its faults just like any other state in the nation.

It would be interesting, to me anyways, to see the amount of federal welfare grants being used per capita in comparison to other states. I'm doubting we'd be so quick to judge.

-- Posted by bberry on Sun, Oct 21, 2012, at 5:22 PM

Do you know what people do when their 96 weeks (almost two years) of unemployment runs out? They get a job! In the Great Depression if folks could not find work where they lived, they moved. The Gazette has mulpiple job openings everyday. They might not be what a person wants but it is honest work with an honest days pay.

-- Posted by dennis on Tue, Oct 23, 2012, at 8:36 AM

Unemployment and welfare aren't the same thing. You can still work and receive welfare.

-- Posted by bberry on Wed, Oct 24, 2012, at 11:43 PM


There is a way to determine Federal Welfare Grants per capita for each state. The Census Bureau also provides population data that can be used to accomplish this task. By dividing the population into the total of Federal Welfare Grants utilized by each state for any given year, a per capita value can be established. Following are some examples for year 2010.

Nebraska = $2,314,143,000 divided by 1,826,341 = $1,267 per person

California = $36,391,508,000 divided by 37,253,956 = $977 per person

Texas = $22,409,302,000 divided by 25,145,561 = $891 per person

Colorado = $2,717,142,000 divided by 5,029,196 = $540 per person

Missouri = $6,177,319,000 divided by 5,988,927 = $1,031 per person

South Dakota = $708,131,000 divided by 814,180 = $870 per person

Iowa = $3,423,102,000 divided by 3,046,355 = $1,124 per person

Kansas = $2,181,309,000 divided by 2,853,118 = $764 per person

Illinois = $10,486,980,000 divided by 12,830,632 = $817 per person



-- Posted by Geezer on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 8:36 AM

Thanks for doing the leg work Geezer. Appreciate it.

-- Posted by bberry on Fri, Oct 26, 2012, at 7:06 PM


I did locate a summation by Senator Jeff Sessions concerning this exact topic - Federal Welfare Grants. The report he references was compiled by the Congressional Research Office at the request of Senator Sessions.


This report provides some clarity as to what type of programs are categorized under Federal Welfare Grants. A real eye opener for sure, you will want to take a look at this Nick.

I am interested in why Nebraska had the highest percentage of Federal Welfare Grants for years 2009 - 2010. It seems just opposite of what I would expect to be happening in a state with such a low unemployment rate. Maybe it has something to do with the State participating in the ARRA Stimulus Program - which started in 2009. Recovery.Nebraska.gov provides detailed information about ARRA Federal Funds allocated and used by Nebraska. However, determining if some of those funds were part of a Federal Welfare Grant is as clear as mud.


-- Posted by Geezer on Sat, Oct 27, 2012, at 12:04 AM

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