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Successful or not, Ricketts plan worthwhile effort
Gov. Pete Ricketts' budget proposals were just as predictable as the response.
Faced with a projected $267 million shortfall in the current budget and the potential for a $900 million gap through 2019, Ricketts did what most of us do when our paychecks won't make it to the end of the month.
He looked for places to make the taxpayer-provided "paycheck" stretch -- the equivalent of searching through the couch cushions.
Ricketts' plan would cut spending and use money already stashed in a variety of cash accounts, as well as pull money from the state's emergency cash reserve, draining it from a projected $630 million to about half a billion.
He would make major cuts in state aid for individuals, from the University of Nebraska and community colleges, put increase funding for child welfare services, K-12 public education and the state prison system.
A land parcel's earning potential, rather than its market value, would begin being used to calculate property taxes starting in 2019, but state aid to schools would be automatically increased in future years.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau doesn't think Ricketts goes far enough, preferring that the Legislature would increase the state sales tax and eliminate sales tax exemptions to offset property taxes.
Americans For Prosperity called Ricketts' plan "right on target" and a needed response to unsustainable "years of unchecked spending."
Others, of course, say he wants to go too far, such as Rebuild Nebraska, which calls it a "tax cut for the wealthy. One that will result in cuts for the programs and services that hard-working Nebraskans rely on. The reality is that middle-income Nebraskans would see little tax relief -- enough for, maybe, one night at the movies."
"When faced with a tight budget, hard-working Nebraskans don't ask for a pay cut or fewer hours; they take on a second or third job to make ends meet."
Do we really want to compare government assistance with a paycheck? Taking a second or third job just to keep on spending? No thanks.
Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb accused Ricketts of attempting to model Nebraska after Kansas, pulling ideas from extremist groups and failing to "deliver any bold plans" on education, health care, clean energy and prison overcrowding.
Ricketts is unlikely to achieve all the points he advocates, if many.
Attempting to hold the line, and even reducing taxes, is a worthy effort at any level of government.