Editorial

Successful or not, Ricketts plan worthwhile effort

Friday, January 13, 2017

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.

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  • Would the Farm Bureau be ok to eliminate all the sales tax exemptions that Ag producers receive and the difference in taxes paid for the $50,000 SUV's that have farm plates? Reducing property tax through the state does little to bring new jobs into the state or keep retired folks here. Ag producers should talk to their local governments or reducing spending. Ricketts is using some rainy day funds to keep from raising taxes is a good idea. Local governments could have done the same and property taxes would not have needed to increase. Would Con Ag and Cabelas stayed in Ne if income taxes were reduced? Would retired folks not move to states where there is no income tax? Will Nebraska receive more revenue, population growth and new jobs because of property tax reductions on Ag land? Yes property tax is too high. But it is the local taxing units making it high. Lobby them. Elect folks that will keep property tax down.

    -- Posted by dennis on Fri, Jan 13, 2017, at 7:26 PM
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    I sure hope that our Governor and Legislature do not get us into a situation like the Governor of Kansas has done to our neighbors to the south.

    Dennis not sure if income tax had anything to do with the Cabelas situation. That was nothing but a corporate raider that saw a big profit and went for it. Although I would have hoped Ricketts might have tried to do more to save the Sidney jobs.

    -- Posted by fit2btied on Thu, Jan 19, 2017, at 11:32 PM
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