Saturday, June 04, 2005

Heineman Assesses 2005 Unicameral

by Kyle Michaelis
Yesterday, the Nebraska Legislature ended its 2005 session. Speaking to the body in his closing "Sine Die" Address, Governor Dave Heineman said:
Four and a half months ago, I stood before you under extraordinary circumstances and said that together we could accomplish a great deal in a short period of time, and we have. We looked forward with eyes trained on the future and considered the best course for our whole state – rural and urban.

By extending your focus beyond the needs of today to anticipate the future needs of our state, you have helped to create a solid foundation to build upon in the next session and in the years to come....

I have been asked what I will remember most about my first legislative session as Governor. What I will remember is this: no matter how we disagreed, you and I did so in a professional and courteous manner. The professional working relationship we have built together regardless of party, politics or the nature of an issue, is vital in an age of partisan bickering and grandstanding....

We should be proud of the education we provide the children of this state...I am also pleased to say that we recognized the importance of education after high school, whether at the university, state college and community college level. As I have said before, education is forever linked with the economic vitality of Nebraska. We cannot continue to educate the best workers in the world and export them to other states. That is why I am pleased to see the University of Nebraska and higher education embracing their roles in economic development. That is also why Senator Landis and Senator Wehrbein’s jobs-creation package, the Nebraska Advantage, is so important....

The Nebraska Advantage positions us to grow our tax base by an estimated 57,000 jobs over the next eight years, according to the UNL Bureau of Business Research. It addresses the economic needs of small and large businesses in small and large communities, as well as our agricultural roots....

This was a session of firsts. First bills passed and signed, first bills vetoed and overridden. This was a collegial, productive, successful session of firsts. It will not be our last. Thank you for all of your hard work.

I hope everyone remembers that 57,000 jobs figure. Future senators have a responsibility to oversee this "Nebraska Advantage" program and make damn sure it's working as promised. Otherwise, the people of Nebraska are being gipped out of hundreds of millions of dollars for no other reason than our elected representatives inability to say "no" to the all-powerful Chamber of Commerce.

As for everything else the Governor said, pretty standard stuff, although his ending remarks were worth noting. His promise that "this will not be our last" productive session together is a nice little show of determination as he gets ready for his showdown with Tom Osborne. Of course, he's right - he'll still be governor next year, but an unelected Governor on the verge of losing his party's nomination in the primary gives LAME DUCK a whole new meaning.

It did seem like the legislature got a lot done this year, though, especially towards the end of the session. Over the next few days, I'll be doing a series of Wrap-Up posts on this flurry of activity, both good and bad, in the Legislature's final week. Please be patient and try to control your excitement.


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