Balancing state budget painful but necessary activity

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Gov. Pete Ricketts’ pledge to not raise taxes is unpopular for those of us who depend on tax dollars for our salaries or vital public services, which includes everyone in the state in one way or another.

For example, the University of Nebraska is the largest employer in the state with nearly a $1 billion budget, we spend more than $2 billion a year on Medicaid (before a voter-mandated expansion) and the current budget of $500 million a year won’t properly keep up our 10,000 miles of roads, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

If you’ve done your taxes, thanks to changes in federal tax law, you may have found yourself paying the state out of your federal tax return.

Nebraska needs some fiscal discipline, according to WalletHub’s 2019 report on tax rates by state.

According to the personal finance website, with one being the best and 51 the worst, Nebraskans are near the top, 47th, in overall effective state and local tax rates, once income and cost of living are factored in.

We’re in the middle, 19th, in income taxes, but back near the top, 44th, in real-estate tax. We’re 36th in vehicle property taxes, and 30th in sales and excise taxes.

Bringing the Cornhusker state into line with others will be a painful process, but, like diet and exercise, no pain, no gain.

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