LB28 offers important means to give

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Most of us like small-town America, or we wouldn't be living here. It's a relatively safe, friendly place to grow up, but as Mark Graff of the McCook Community Foundation pointed out Tuesday, many of us move away to make our fame and fortune.

We're grateful that many, many people who have done just that, don't forget where they came from. When they give, their hometowns become better places to live and work.

Now, thanks to the passage of LB28, there's a mechanism in place to encourage such action.

Sen. Matt Connealy of Decatur and Sen. Tom Baker of Trenton watched as Gov. Dave Heineman ceremonially signed the Endow Nebraska Act, which offers state income tax credits for qualified individual and corporate donations to non-profit organizations and endowments based in Nebraska.

It was appropriate that the ceremony took place in the Ed Thomas YMCA, which owes its existence to its namesake and many others who have made large contributions to the Y's endowment fund.

But one doesn't have to look far around McCook to see what private donations and bequests can accomplish. Walk around McCook Community College, and most of the buildings you see are the result of generous, forward-thinking donors. The McCook College Foundation is the vehicle for most of that funding.

Community Hospital is planning a major expansion, and the Community Hospital Health Foundation is the key player in that project.

The McCook Community Foundation and McCook Education Foundation and Hillcrest Foundation are newer players on the scene, but are already making themselves felt in improvements in the community and schools.

The new law creates state income tax credits of up to $10,000 a year for planned gifts to qualified 501(c)3 non-profit organizations, 20 percent for corporations and 30 percent for individuals, up to the cap.

The Legislature passed LB28 for good reason. According to EndowNebraska, some $94 billion in wealth will be transferred between generations over the next 50 years.

Laws like that created by LB28 have worked in 11 other states. In Montana, for instance, $74 million has been added to non-profit endowments in the past five years.

But the opportunity won't last forever. LB28 provisions go into effect Jan. 1, 2006, and expire on Jan. 1, 2010. As we make plans for our estate, there's even more reason to remember the communities that gave us so much.

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