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My number one goal in the State Legislature is to reduce your property taxes. Property taxes are out of control and have put our State on a trajectory that it can no longer sustain. Consequently, the Governor, state lawmakers, lobbyists, and concerned citizens have all begun looking at new ways for the State to generate more money for the Government to spend.
My experience in the State Legislature has taught me one very important rule: Whenever there is money in the State’s coffers to be had, there is a long line of politicians, lobbyists, and even concerned citizens waiting to spend it, and they all believe they know how best to spend it.
Last week a public opinion poll was released by the Holland Children’s Institute (HCI) showing that nearly 6 in 10 Nebraskans believe state lawmakers should “find new revenue streams to balance the state budget and bolster support for mental health programs, K-12 public education and infrastructure.” The grocery list of other goodies Nebraskans said they would like to see state lawmakers pay for include early childhood education, job training programs, Medicaid expansion, employment benefits, and higher education. Where is Santa Claus when you really need him?
To be sure, there are several ways the State can generate new sources of revenue. Some of these new revenue streams include the collection of online sales taxes, and the elimination of sales tax exemptions. But, keep this one fact in mind: Each of these new revenue streams is really nothing more than a new way for the government to reach deeper into your pockets in order to take more of your hard-earned money.
Of course, there are also the old ways of generating more revenue for the State. According to HCI’s survey, 60 percent of Nebraskans believe State lawmakers should raise taxes on corporations and 54 percent believe the State should raise taxes on our wealthiest citizens.
But, raising taxes is seldom ever a good idea. Raising taxes is the way of Socialism. Socialism kills competition, the incentive to work hard, and the desire to generate wealth. For instance, raising taxes only motivates corporations and wealthy citizens to move to other states where taxes are lower. As Winston Churchill said: “The main vice of capitalism is the uneven distribution of prosperity. The main vice of Socialism is the even distribution of misery.”
Nebraska does not have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem. Nebraska has plenty of money in its coffers. The problem is that we waste money on programs which are either too fat or should be eliminated altogether. Allow me to illustrate.
Nebraska has too many State Government employees. Nebraska currently has 290 full-time State Government employees per every 10,000 residents in the state. By way of comparison, the U.S. average is 243 State Government employees per every 10,000 residents. Iowa has twice the population of Nebraska, yet it operates with a ratio of only 235 employees to every 10,000 residents. If Nebraska used Iowa’s ratio, we could save the State $500,000,000 annually. South Dakota’s ratio is 226 employees to every 10,000 residents. Using South Dakota’s ratio, we could save the State $680,000,000.
Nebraska continues to fund failed programs which ought to be eliminated. A perfect example of this is the Learning Community. In 2016 Gov. Ricketts signed LB1067, which added another 13.4 million in State funding to the Learning Community beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. But, study after study has shown that the vast majority of children catch up academically to their peers by the third grade. So, the State keeps throwing money at a program which has no proven track record of success.
As you can see, Nebraska does not really have a revenue problem at all; we have a spending problem. State lawmakers have not been dealing responsibly with your tax dollars, and this explains why Nebraska continues to be the second most highly taxed state in the Union. Only the state of Illinois taxes their people more than we do!