It’s Good, but could be Better

Apr 24, 2014 by AFP

We are working to make the Good Life Better in Nebraska and have some new tools to use.

As award-winning journalist Bob Greene wrote about our great state, “the best America there ever was,” we want to help keep Nebraska just that.

Public policies enacted at the state and local level impact our quality of life.

One recent analysis of states policies is the recently-released  2014 “Rich States, Poor States” which ranks states’ economic performance as well as the economic outlook.  The analysis was prepared by former Wall Street Journal economist Stephen Moore and former Reagan economist Arthur Laffer (of the famous “Laffer Curve”) and is done by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Nebraska is ranked #20 on economic performance based on three indicators – making the top 10 by virtue of the growth of state gross domestic product but ranking 35th in domestic migration, as population leaves our state for more economically fertile ground.  On the third indicator, the Cornhusker state ranked 16th in employment growth.

The economic future isn’t as rosy as Nebraska ranks 35th in economic outlook.

Nebraska has some policies which rank high including the fact that we are a right-to-work state, and the state liability system is ranked 2nd in the country.  Those are areas to brag about.

On the other hand, we have no tax expenditure limits and we rank 47th in public employees vs. private sector workers.

Taxes are also a hindrance in helping citizens in the Cornhusker State enjoy the good life.

Nebraska ranks near the bottom – 46th – in personal income tax progressivity and defies the state motto of equality before the law – at least in the area of taxation.

We rank 31st in personal and corporate income tax rates and while states with no income tax are attracting businesses and growing their populations, we have another ominous cloud hanging over Nebraska.

Nebraska is dead last in the estate or inheritance tax levied.  While some refer to it as the “death tax” earns that name in more ways than one.  The inheritance tax is a disincentive to grow businesses and pass them on to future generations.

Moreover, Nebraska is headed in the wrong direction in regard to recently enacted tax changes. States which are lowering and eliminating taxes are considered to have better economic outlooks than states which enact new taxes or increase taxes.

Another recent study confirmed those findings – the “Small Business Tax Index 2014” rankings – put us among the 15th worst tax systems, ranking Nebraska #40.

In that study, we ranked 36th in property taxes only slightly better than Texas which has no income tax.  Nebraska fared better — #16 – in Sales, Gross Receipts and Excise Taxes as a Share of Personal Income).

In gas taxes, we ranked #27 and diesel tax #24.

Tax revenue may fuel the state’s expenditures but high tax rates and tax burdens Nebraskans bear which residents in other states don’t pay diminish the quality of life enjoyed by residents in our state.

While the economic outlook considers state and local taxes and policies, the impact is placed on all Nebraska residents.

We can do more to make the Good Life better.