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Earlier this Month University of Nebraska President, Hank Bounds, unveiled a new plan to grow our state called, Blueprint Nebraska. Blueprint Nebraska is a comprehensive approach to improving conditions throughout the state, which includes areas such as economics, education and healthcare. Blueprint Nebraska has a 21-member steering committee, which will soon be forming 15 different industry councils consisting of a dozen members each. These councils will tour the state later this summer in order to publish an action plan for improving conditions around the state, making it more attractive for people and businesses to move here. Blueprint Nebraska has received enthusiastic support from Governor Ricketts and the Chamber of Commerce.
At first glance Blueprint Nebraska may seem like a much needed and welcomed approach for improving the economic, educational, and health conditions of our state. After all, who knows more about these subjects than the President of our flagship university, the Governor, and the Chamber of Commerce? Right? Unfortunately, nobody ever bothered to ask if this approach had ever been used before, or if it had even succeeded. That is, until now! This approach has been tried before, and the results were dismal. Over the course of the next three weeks, I will expose how Blueprint Mississippi failed that state through a trilogy of newspaper articles.
Before he came to Nebraska in 2012, Hank Bounds used this same approach in his home state of Mississippi. In 2010 Bounds launched Blueprint Mississippi. So, how well did Blueprint Mississippi do to reform conditions in his home state? As you will see, Blueprint Mississippi failed the state of Mississippi in nearly every major category just four years after it was implemented and two years after he left the state. This week I will expose how Blueprint Mississippi failed to turn around that state’s economy.
So, how well did Blueprint Mississippi help the economy of that state? According to Business Insider, in 2014, just four years after Bounds implemented Blueprint Mississippi, Mississippi’s economy ranked dead last among the 50 states. According to the report, Mississippi had the lowest GDP per capita among all 50 states, and they had the second lowest GDP growth rate in the nation. In 2014, 24.2 percent of Mississippi residents lived below the poverty line, which was the highest percentage in the nation, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mississippi had the highest unemployment rate in the nation set at 6.5 percent. Moreover, Mississippi Business Journal reported that personal income grew that year by less than 2 percent even though Bounds had promised he could deliver on higher paying jobs.
Bounds recently told the Norfolk Daily News that Blueprint Mississippi generated thousands of new, high-paying, lasting jobs, but this simply is not true. According to the Department of numbers, Mississippi has created 91,400 jobs since 2010, but these jobs only make up the difference for the ones which had been lost during the recession of 2008. According to the Current Population Survey (CPS), employment in Mississippi reached its maximum high in May 2000. Mississippi has never recovered. In fact, earlier this Month Wallethub ranked Mississippi as the second worst economy in the nation for 2018. So, since its implementation back in 2010 it appears that Blueprint Mississippi has failed to improve the economic conditions of that state.
So, why has Hank Bounds introduced his formerly failed state program here in Nebraska? Judging from his past performance, it cannot be to improve the economic conditions of our state. Instead, I believe the real reason Bounds has introduced Blueprint Nebraska is to secure future funding for the University of Nebraska System. Bounds would like us all to believe that Blueprint Nebraska and the University of Nebraska somehow hold the keys to growing our state. This is what he led the people of Mississippi to believe, but as you can see, the numbers have never backed up his grandiose claims.
While I am not against the idea of surveying Nebraskans about how to improve the economic conditions of our state, I am against the idea of raising state revenues by incentivizing out-of-state businesses and people to move to Nebraska without also cutting spending and helping those who are already here. People and businesses don’t come to Nebraska because our taxes are too high. The only state with higher taxes than Nebraska is Illinois. Cut spending in order to lower taxes, especially property taxes, and everyone will want to live and do business in Nebraska!