There are two proposed amendments to the state constitution on the Nov. 2 ballot. The Journal Star editorial board recommends a vote in favor of both.
In a logical and fact-driven world, this proposed amendment to give local communities more options for economic development would have passed when it was on the ballot two years ago.
But it failed.
Proponents hope that clearer ballot language will be the key to victory.
Currently, communities that want to fund economic development can pay for it only with property taxes or sales taxes.
The amendment would allow local officials to find other sources of funding, such as private donations from individuals or foundations.
Who could not be in favor of that?
As some supporters point out, it might even enable some communities to shift that burden from property taxpayers. In addition to private donations, local communities turn to state and federal funding, fees and various surplus funds.
The existing law on local economic development has produced notable successes, such as the Cargill plant in Blair and the Excel plan in Nebraska City.
With more tools, there will be more economic development success stories. We recommend a vote for Amendment 1.
Many Nebraskans fancy themselves as conservatives in favor of downsizing and streamlining government.
This proposed constitutional amendment gives them the chance to do exactly that. It would eliminate the office of state treasurer. Those duties would be transferred to other state agencies, such as the Department of Revenue and Department of Administrative Services.
Sen. Dennis Utter of Hastings, who introduced the legislation to put the proposal on the ballot, is not promising huge savings. In fact, he says the only promise he can guarantee is that it would save $117,000 a year. We suspect he's being conservative, in more ways than one.
The treasurer's duties are largely administrative. The important policy decisions are made elsewhere in state government.
Nebraska would not be blazing any trails by abolishing the office. States without elected state treasurers are Virginia, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Montana, Michigan, Minnesota, Maine, Hawaii, Georgia, Florida and Alaska. In Tennessee, the legislature elects the treasurer.
One argument raised against the proposal is that it would diminish the system of checks and balances. Utter persuasively argues, however, that the elected office of state auditor already provides an adequate check on state government financial matters.
We think he is right. We recommend a vote for Amendment 2.