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Nebraska must continue welcoming refugees

The number of refugees entering the United States is expected to decrease this year to about 20,000, the Associated Press reports. That's less than half of the 45,000 that President Donald Trump had approved and is well below the 53,716 who entered during 2017.

Nebraska has an admirable, long-standing tradition of welcoming refugees. Even with diminished national numbers, the mission here continues.

Since 2002, more than 11,000 refugees from 35 countries have resettled in Nebraska. During 2016, Nebraska led the nation in resettling the most refugees per capita: a total of 1,441 refugees, or 76 per 100,000 Nebraskans.

Nebraska can be proud of the success that local organizations and communities have had over the years in helping men, women and children find new lives here after being uprooted by war and other tumult. Nebraska needs to continue to nurture that spirit of welcoming and support.

— Omaha World-Herald


Crime, poverty grow in cost to state

The budget passed by the Nebraska Legislature and quickly signed by Gov. Pete Ricketts dealt with some unpleasant choices. A clear example is less money for higher education (the University of Nebraska, state and community colleges) and more money for prisons and poverty.

In the case of crime and prisons, too many people can't or won't obey our laws. Whatever the causes, the outcomes are damaged or ruined lives and financial drains on Nebraska's taxpayers.

Many authorities say that to significantly reduce crime, more money must be spent on lessening the causes. Until that happens, however, Nebraskans will continue to spend more money on crime and poverty at the expense of education, recreation and other positive programs that improve our quality of life.

It is time for some fresh thinking on how to deal with crime and poverty.

— Grand Island Independent


Aid formula, high taxes hurt farmers

Our state's lawmakers are charged with deciding which schools ought to receive state aid and which schools should stand on their own. The numbers help them determine which districts are most in need of aid vs. those with tax bases broad enough to shoulder the burden of public schools without the state's help.

We can agree with the school aid formula to the extent that it measures needs vs. resources, two of the most basic and credible factors to steer state aid decisions. However, for all of its complexity, Nebraska's school aid formula is absent one essential factor, and that is the property owners' ability to pay.

It is easy to understand that farmers are struggling today. What is hard to understand is why our state's policymakers have not figured a method to account for that truth.

Until we can consider ability to pay, our tax policy is fundamentally and ethically flawed because we're willingly overburdening our state's major industry.

— Kearney Hub

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