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Budget and Taxes: Sound Familiar?

J.L. Schmidt, Statehouse Correspondent, Nebraska Press Association J.L.SCHMIDT

You can’t have it both ways. Our parents told us that. We learned it from sometimes-painful experience. Yet, we often forget and think maybe this time it will be different.

The 2018 Legislature is back at work and the Governor is saying that he wants to provide meaningful tax relief for all Nebraskans while closing a $200 million gap in the state budget. Pardon me while I ask, again, what is the largest source of state revenue? Taxes? Do you see my confusion here?

Perhaps there is a magic pill. Maybe a magic wand that is yet to be waved. Or maybe it’s just the Kansas way, keep cutting the budget until it hurts really bad. With his own tax plan trapped by a legislative filibuster last session – and still awaiting floor action –Governor Pete Ricketts said he’ll be pushing for a revised version of that tax reduction package that would combine corporate and personal income tax cuts with reductions in the valuation of ag land for local property tax purposes.

Some state senators, frustrated by last year’s less than successful effort, are sponsoring a bill to provide an estimated $1.1 billion in annual property tax relief by reducing the local school property tax load by up to 50 percent. If that fails, they are mounting a petition drive to put the question to voters in November.

Ricketts has raised a warning flag about that, noting the cuts that would have to be made to cover the $1.1 billion reduction. But proponent Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard said state budget reductions could be accompanied by elimination of some sales tax exemptions. Erdman has suggested that state budget reductions could potentially be accompanied by elimination of some exemptions to the state sales tax as a dual means of supplying revenue needed to help fill the gap in tax support for schools.

The Governor doesn’t like the potential option of attempting to increase revenue without hiking tax rates, a pathway that could be opened by elimination of some sales tax exemptions or business tax incentives. He said Nebraska is already a high-tax state. His option? Creating an environment that will cut red tape and create more job opportunities while controlling spending.

In his New Year’s message to the state – it was a press release that you may have seen – the Governor said, “In good times and in bad, Nebraskans work together to get things done and move our state forward. When we see a need, we go out and meet that need.”

That sounds like teamwork. Here’s hoping that spirit will prevail in the weeks ahead because the tax and budget concerns, while the biggest the state faces, aren’t all the problems that need to be addressed.

Ricketts said he has been in extensive negotiations with tax reduction proponents along with Revenue Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion. But he has vowed to work with all senators on the priorities Nebraskans want.

He spoke of the teamwork experienced in the 2017 session and said, “Working together, we can accomplish great things.” Remember, this is an election year and half of the legislative seats (the even-numbered districts) and the governor are on the ballot.

Let’s hope that enough senators are on board with Ricketts’ teamwork idea to make good things happen, without giving away the farm.

------ J.L. Schmidt has been covering Nebraska government and politics since 1979. He has been a registered independent for 17 years. Contact him at:

Nebraska Press Association
845 S Street
Lincoln NE 68508


The most important person . . .

Richard Kimbrough, Retired author, Crete, Neb.

Les Moore who moved to Condon Springs from Iowa in 1993 and quickly became a Cornhusker fan came into Goat and Gloria’s after being in Lincoln for the Scott Frost unveiling. The Buzzards were having coffee so they invited Les to sit down and tell them about that.

Les started by saying, “Well, Coach Frost is the most important person I’ve ever met.”

Gart Swanson interrupted, doubt in his tone. “You met him?” To which Tony Flagg added, the same doubt present, “The most important person you’ve ever met?”

Les had a good answer. “To Nebraskans right now he’s the most important person, that’s for sure.”

All of which led to a Buzzard discussion of who was the most important person each had ever met, wives and girlfriends excluded.

Miller Yates said the most important person he had ever seen was FDR. When the President’s campaign train stopped for ten minutes in North Platte in 1936 when Miller was five, he sat atop his dad’s shoulders and saw Roosevelt on the back of the caboose.

Aaron Ware who has attended two United States Open golf tournaments and is far and away Condon Springs best golfer said he met and spoke with Arnold Palmer in the 1966 Open held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. While standing along a fairway Aaron watched Palmer’s drive land and stop not more than twenty yards from him. When the Great One approached to hit his second shot Aaron asked, “How far did you hit that one, Arnie?” to which Arnie replied, “I haven’t the least idea.” That meeting and the subsequent conversation had been very big in Aaron’s mind.

Well, the Buzzards felt Aaron’s story interesting, but lacked much depth. A meeting needed more than two sentences, one asked, one replied to. Archie Donald then told of meeting Nixon when the future President campaigned for Eisenhower for President and himself for Vice President in Kearney in 1952. After his speech Nixon asked if anyone was present who had husbands or sons fighting in Korea. Archie’s mother did, Archie’s father Art. She was holding Archie who was four months old at the time. Nixon came over to shake hands with Archie’s mom. After the handshake he goo-googled Archie’s chin with his forefinger whereupon Archie threw up on his coat.

Archie argued that Nixon was clearly an important person in American history, and that by throwing up on him, he, Archie, had met him. No question about that.

Joe Mora, the oldest Buzzard present that morning, a big country music fan, recounted how he had met Roy Acuff one evening in the halls of Opryland. He and the singer of the Wabash Cannonball, Joe’s favorite song, talked for ten minutes, mostly about Grandpa Jones who ranked right up there with Roy as Joe’s idols.

The Buzzards unanimously agreed that Roy Acuff truly was an important person, perhaps even more important than FDR or Nixon and a tad ahead of Arnie Palmer even, and that ten minutes talking to Roy was world class without question. They were all for given Joe the best “met important person” honor.

That is until Noah A. Gomeyer, twin son (with Noah B. Gomeyer) of the founder of the Gomeyer Repenteds, told about driving to church a couple of nights before when the temperature was twenty below, and he saw a car stopped along the gravel road seven miles from town. And about a mile farther up the road there was this young woman walking. Not appropriately dressed for the cold, she would have collapsed and frozen to death save for Noah A. coming along and picking her up and taking her to town.

Noah A. concluded, “That girl was the most important person I ever met, and I’ve thanked the Lord so much for giving me the opportunity to save her life.”

The Buzzards agreed, hands down Noah had won the gold medal, even beating out Joe Mora meeting Roy Acuff.

Retired author Richard Kimbrough taught in K-12 schools and universities for fifty-seven years, the last twenty-four at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "Neighbors" is an offshoot of Kimbrough’s latest book "Reunion" based on the two or three events that change the lives of everyone. "Reunion" is available from Amazon Books. The author's proceeds from the sale of "Reunion" will be donated to Tabitha Hospice in honor of his late wife Beverly Kimbrough.


Grow Nebraska

Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Governor

Nebraska’s Blue Ribbon Schools

A quality education is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give any child. Perhaps Martin Luther King, Jr. put it best in 1947: “The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

As Governor, I have worked to spotlight outstanding examples of educators and schools that are helping deliver the quality education students need to succeed. Earlier this year, I visited schools to honor teachers helping improve student achievement and celebrate National Teacher Day. My Department of Economic Development and I have partnered with school districts across the state to provide quality programming exposing middle school students to opportunities in manufacturing and information technology fields. Additionally, I’ve worked to support initiatives in the Legislature that aim to improve student achievement.

This week, we are honoring Nebraska’s Blue Ribbon schools which are helping students achieve a high level of academic excellence. Each year, the U.S. Department of Education honors schools nationwide for their commitment to excellence with their highly-selective Blue Ribbon award. In 2017, four Nebraska schools received the Blue Ribbon award. Nebraska’s 2017 Blue Ribbon schools are: Calvert Elementary in Auburn, Dundee Elementary and Paddock Road Elementary in Omaha, and Pender Elementary. These schools represent the very best of Nebraska’s education system. They instill both intelligence and character in their students and set them up for future success.

How does a school earn a Blue Ribbon? There are two different paths. First, a school can demonstrate significant progress in student achievement for at least three consecutive years. Many of these schools also have a student body in which at least 40 percent of students are disadvantaged in some way. Second, a school can be either in the top 15 percent of all schools in both reading and mathematics, or they must show significant gains in closing the achievement gap among student subgroups.

This year, all four of Nebraska’s Blue Ribbon schools received their distinctions for falling in the second category, which means they are in the top 15 percent of all schools in reading and mathematics.

These schools did not earn their distinction by accident – it came through hard work, dedication, and teamwork. For example, Paddock Road Elementary in Westside Community Schools in Omaha achieves its high standards through innovative practices. Teachers utilize I/E (intervention and enrichment) time to help their students develop projects around their areas of interest. Paddock Road has also developed a strategic plan to help measure their progress against goals they’ve set as a team. All of their certified staff are engaged in the process of developing this plan and common vision for their school.

Pender Elementary in Thurston County offers a multi-tiered system of support for students with additional needs. Pender Elementary connects students to mentors through their TeamMates program. The school district also operates a Beyond the Bell afterschool program for students at no additional charge. Students who attend can receive help with homework and have access to additional programming. The area faith community has also teamed up with the school to create backpacks of food each weekend for students from families in need. Programs like these that leverage community support ensure that Pender Elementary’s students can focus on their work in the classroom and excel.

These are just a couple examples of the great work going on in Nebraska’s Blue Ribbon schools. These schools are setting the standard for other teams of students, parents, teachers, and administrators.

------ Pete Ricketts is Governor of Nebraska.

He can be contacted at:

Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 94848
Lincoln, NE. 68509-4848

(402) 471-2244


Reynolds Rap

January 17, 2018

Where's the "Trump card" for the anti-Trump movement?

As pictured above, for nearly two years, when you drive west on I-80 just past the Gretna, Nebraska exit you'll come upon singage roughly taking up one-third of a big red barn that boldly posts the name of the 45th President of the United States of America, "TRUMP."

So, are you sick and tired of President Donald Trump? If your answer is no, then relax, sit back and enjoy your support of our President or immediately join President's Trump bandwagon for his 2020 re-election campaign. If your answer is no, then what specifically are you doing - right now - to change the current political canvas for the midterm elections in 2018 and in 2020?

Nothing? Oh, you're doing nothing except to talk, nag, whine, complain, and yada, yada, yada, really? As they did throughout the presidency of former President George W. Bush, comedians Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert constantly and virulently ridicule President Donald Trump, but it was deemed "politically incorrect" to constantly and virulently ridicule former President Barack Obama. There's the contradiction. Rather than be perceived as "racist" for labeling President Obama as ineffective, inconsistent, and a complete failure at improving the social and economic status of Native Americans and Black people (he failed "big time") - they left him alone. These White men and White women like Senator Elizabeth Warren AND "Uncle Tom" tokens like Oprah Winfrey are hypocrites.

Bill Maher
Comedian / Host
Real Time with
Bill Maher
Elizabeth Warren
U.S. Senator
Stephen Colbert
Comedian / Host
The Late Show


For people of color and poor White people, the constant whining of rich White Democrats vs. rich White Republicans means absolutely nothing, because there's absolutely no difference, these rich people peddle the same ole crap, and as represented by the graph below, nothing changes.


Democrats want you to believe "those rich Republicans" created and sustain the wealth gap between Blacks and Whites, the constantly increasing financial gap between the haves and the have nots. However, looking at the facts, it's those filty-rich elected Democrats (who do all the whining) who are the real culprits. NEWS FLASH: PARTY OF THE RICH: Democrats Are 7 Of 10 Wealthiest Members Of Congress, not Republicans!



Source: Center for Responsive Politics

In 2015, the median net worth of Senate Republicans rose 13 percent from $2.9 million to $3.3 million, according to personal financial disclosure data filed by congressional members and reviewed by CRP researchers. Over the same period, the median net worth of the Senate Democratic Caucus, on the other hand, rose 9 percent – still far greater than the 4.5 percent increase in combined net worth of U.S. households and nonprofits in 2015, according to a report this year from the Federal Reserve. In 2015, more than 70 percent of Senators were millionaires, meaning most never needed to worry about the pressures that most middle-class American face – from securing gainful employment to saving for unforeseen financial shocks. At at a time when Congress is considering changes to the tax code and healthcare legislation, this disparity calls into question their ability to adequately represent their constituents. In the House, median net worth of members increased only about 1 percent, from $860,000 in 2014 to $875,000 in 2015.


Given the great disdain so many people apparently have for President Trump, why did the "Stop Trump" movement fall apart? Clearly, despite what comedians say, and despite constant propaganda manufactured by democrats, President Trump is not the issue, because his political rhetoric is not particularly new or unique.

QUESTION: Democrats clearly have the wealth and the poilitical clout to limit President Trump to a one-term presidency, so what's the problem? Are Democrats too afraid, too weak, or not savvy enough to do as Republicans and begin to re-map voting districts and eligibility, or to revise or repeal Citizens United?

RESPONSE: Sadly, the "problem" is that the anti-Trump movement doesn't offer anything better. The #ME TOO movement, the "TIMES UP" movement, the "Black Lives Matter" movement, the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, the Great Recession, and the neverending wars in the Middle East and more all occurred while both Democrats or Republicans ruled Congress. And Donald Trump knows it, just how easy it is to point fingers at such blatant ineptness, which is why he'll successfully play his "trump card" again in 2020!


Accordingly, given the absence of any meaningful opposition (or "Trump card") to President Donald Trump's political agenda, the following remains nothing more than a pipe dream:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!"

Martin Luther King Jr.
"I Have a Dream" speech
August 28, 1963

Trip Reynolds

For previous editorials, click here.




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