Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Beefing (or is it Porking?) Up LB775

by Kyle Michaelis
Seems the annual tens of millions of dollars tax-giveaway to big businesses in the state of Nebraska just isn't enough anymore, so the Legislature and Governor Heineman are putting their collective heads together to come up with something a little more lucrative (at a cost of $32-50 million more per year). The only problem is that the system established by LB775 is almost 20 years old, and there's no reliable statistics to indicate whether it's worked at all as a mechanism for job-creation and attracting new businesses.

Does that make LB775 worthless? No - but it definitely suggests that reform is drastically needed. What good is a program for which there is no measurement of its success? What kind of responsible government pumps more and more money into a program without at least questioning whether the damn thing is working?

What's really funny is that the only way the Legislature will be able to implement these reforms and finally get some answers on how much money is going to which companies to create how many jobs is by throwing a whole lot more money at LB775's current recipients. They'll have to pay handsomely for the political "okay" to remove this self-imposed blindfold from their eyes.

Even with a huge give-away, though, there are no guarantees of reform. There's the strong possibility the Chamber of Commerce will use its mighty pull to strip the eventual reform package of any true legislative oversight, all while milking every last penny with which the Legislature proves willing to part.

As for Heineman, I reckon he'll sign anything that the Chamber of Commerce can push through the Unicameral. It's all about beefing up his own record and getting his name on some important legislation while he has the chance - not much time until election season for this would-be incumbent to make his name.


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