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Senator Tom Brewer
This week I’m going to give the subject of the University behaving poorly a rest. I’m sure in the weeks ahead that topic will generate more news all by itself. I’m not going to talk about Property Taxes this week either because my good friend and colleague Sen. Tom Briese wrote such a great op-ed in the Omaha World Herald on that topic this week. I hope you check that out. You can find it here:
This week I want to talk about something exceptionally rare; something that is good for State government and is also something good for the citizens AT THE SAME TIME.
A few weeks ago I mentioned how my constituents gave me great ideas for new bills. One of our constituents called the office not long ago and said,
“How come it costs a hundred bucks to go fishing in Nebraska?”
That got my attention so I looked into it. A resident fishing license is $29.50. A Park Permit is $30, and the Aquatic Habitat Stamp is $15. Now when you throw in some bait, a tank of fuel, some sandwiches and a cooler full of your favorite beverage, a person can easily spend over a $100 just to go fishing. That’s just nuts.
President Reagan said there was nothing quite so permanent as a Government program, so I know changing the math here is going to be tough. What’s more, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is a lot like many other agencies of State government – they don’t get a penny of money appropriated to them by the Legislature. Their entire budget is derived from licenses, permits and fees they sell. They are 100% self-funded and don’t cost the tax payers any sales or income tax revenue.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said the many States were great “laboratories of democracy” so it didn’t take long to find a good example of one of our neighbors reducing some of these costs. In 2012 Kansas implemented a program to sell park permits for half-price ($15) when a person renews their license plates for their vehicle. They are the same as Nebraska. They sell Park Permits for $30 over-the-counter at a number of different vendors. This idea gives a person the chance to get a small sticker on their license plate indicating they have a Park Permit valid for the same time period their license plates are valid.
My staff has talked to the Kansas version of Game and Parks and they said they dramatically increased the revenue derived from selling park permits at a 50% discount because it gave a much larger audience of people who wouldn’t ordinarily buy a park permit the chance to get one at half-off.
Citizens get a 50% discount on a Park Permit and the self-funded State Agency that survives on just the money it raises from licenses, permits and fees gets a boost in revenue. Talk about a win-win scenario! Now I know better than to make any predictions about the chances of this bill passing, but we have talked to our Game and Parks Department and they are excited about this idea and will likely come testify at the bill’s hearing in support of it. Stand by for news!
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.