Taxes and tankers

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Happy day. The Nebraska Legislature is in session. Watch your pocketbook.

Governor Pete Ricketts was noising about the need for property tax relief. Always a popular theme for those we elect to be charge of spending our tax money. "Vote for me and I'll reduce taxes." Easily done but it rarely happens.

In Nebraska our Legislature makes a two year budget. It was put together in the "long session" (90 legislative days), last year and now needs tweaked in this year's "short session" (60 days).The problem is that they currently are projecting to spent $120 million more than they forecast for income when they put the budget together. Not really a problem if the legislators would just squeeze down the spending spigot but no you watch the tax-spenders' solution. I'm guessing will be to raise taxes somewhere to make up the short fall.

Governor Ricketts says we need property tax relief. It is a bit of a complicated story. A lot of years ago when I was a kid, Nebraska had only one system of taxation that being property tax and the pot was split three ways to the State, to the Counties, and local. The tax levy kept climbing to become a bit onerous so Governor Norbert Tiemann, republican, and his minions put together a ballot issue to have property taxes go only to the counties and local entities including schools. To fund the State coffers two new taxes were proposed, an income tax and a sales tax. It is hard to tell what the voters were thinking but they approved all three taxes.

Whooey all sorts of new money to spend and spend it the legislatures since have done so. The rule seems to be that if ever a pot of tax money is accumulated the governing tax-spenders have to get it spent. Poor 'ole "Nobby" will forever be remembered as "Tax Tiemann".

Evidently the present problem is that schools, remember funded by local property taxes, are demanding more revenue to spend than property owners will pony up without complaining severely. Now in all honestly it isn't all the schools fault as the governing elite keep mandating expensive programs to implement and ignore the paying for part of the equation. A case in point is "Special Education".

Special education is a big cost to a lot of big and small districts. A few years ago the state saw a problem and kicked in "state aid", remember income and sales tax revenue, a direct payment to each district to pay for special education and thereby relieve some of the burden of local property taxes. Originally state aid paid for about 80% of the cost of special education for each school district but over the years that percentage had dwindled to about 50%. Whine!

What to do? Gov. Ricketts is proposing that increased state aid, remember your sales and income tax revenue, be sent to the school districts so local taxing entities can lower your property taxes. Only a minor problem though. The State doesn't have any extra money to increase state aid as they have already overspent their budget by some $120 million. It will be interesting to watch your legislature in action to solve that problem but be warned; keep your hand on your billfold.

Tonight is President Obama's final State of the Union Address. It should be quite a performance smooth and all read from a couple of teleprompters. I suspect President Obama will stress how wonderful his signature achievements: his liberal move toward socialized medicine, gun control, his stopping of global warming and plaudits for his nuclear treaty with Iran. Yeah right! I'll be watching. It is our government in action. Vote wisely.

It has been said "You can take the boy off the farm but you can't take the farm out of the boy!" I am proud to represent that remark but there is another association that I'm equally proud. I feel the same way about the Air Force's wonderful old air refueling tanker, the KC-135. It will forever be fondly etched in my heart. Therefore whenever I see a news release on "my tank" I read and want to pass it on.

The title is "Record Year for Al Udeid Tankers". Yes the very same old KC-135's that I learned to fly fifty years ago. Same airframe, upgraded engines and avionics good equipment! Turns out that the expeditionary tanker squadrons supporting US Central Command from Al Udeid Airbase, Doha, Qatar exceeded 100,000 flying hours refueling US and coalition aircraft in 2015. Think 12 airplanes flying 24 hours a day incredible! Those 20,000+ sorties were flown over Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan. They offloaded some 700 million pounds of fuel to our and coalition aircraft.

Of note a couple of local KC-135 crewmembers had a hand in setting that record. Lt. Allison Smith, co-pilot, MHS grad, whose parents Bob and Marie run the Hillside Perk café in Culbertson, just returned to her home base in Wichita before Christmas from a three month stay at Doha. Earlier last year Capt. Sean Cappel, pilot, Nebraska Air Guard, whose parents Rich and Deb run the local NAPA store spent time at lovely, as in HOT, Al Udeid.

That is the way I saw it. Dick Trail

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