Try 1 month for 99¢
Sen. Paul Schumacher

State Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus addresses the Legislature during the 2018 session.

OK, they're down to a precious few and it looks like it's gonna be a brief highlight film.

The Legislature adjusted the 2017-2019 state budget to match up with the state's revenue flow and future revenue projections.


Sure, state senators did a lot more than that, but they didn't plow much new ground. Some Nebraskans, including plenty of senators, would say amen, good for that.

But that would suggest that all is well, everything is just fine the way it is, nothing needs to be changed, nothing needs to be fixed or improved.

A revenue base limited, and in some cases distorted, by tons of tax exemptions and credits and incentives that constrain opportunities to invest in the future is fine, a university system that struggles to be viewed as a priority is fine, the legitimate needs of all Nebraskans are being addressed now.

Hey, don't rock the boat, we're good.

That's what Lincoln used to say before it abandoned its romance with the status quo, jumped off its everything-is-just-fine ledge and took flight.

There are some dreamers in the Legislature who look ahead to what could be.

Paul Schumacher of Columbus, the senator who would build a sovereign New City in Nebraska, is naturally the first to come to mind.

When you see his eyes light up, you know something good is coming.

Schumacher argued last week for legislation to clear the path for accelerated development of advanced wireless technology in Nebraska and a proposal to open the state to autonomous, or driverless, vehicles. 

No judgment intended here on either of those bills, but listen to what Schumacher had to say.

Nebraska, he said, is stuck in the mud.

"Every issue, we favor the past," he said.  

"Let's grab the future. The market will adjust."

In later debate, he asked: "Why are we so afraid of the future? Why don't we just go for it sometime?"

When you're "afraid of everything," Schumacher said, "that puts us at the end of everything."

His proposal to seek a vote of Nebraskans on a constitutional amendment to enable formation of a sovereign city in western Nebraska that might serve as a magnet for major enterprises that could avoid government for up to 99 years was blocked last month on a 19-19 vote.  

Meawhile, Sen. Burke Harr of Omaha, another departing senator, finishes his final year with continuing efforts to focus the state more intensely on workforce development programs with most of that effort directed to targeted education and skill training investments.

Investments -- that's the key word.

It's not just spending, although that's the word that's always politically attached to efforts to move forward, to provide quality education and to support state programs that deliver needed services. 

Status quo won most of the battles -- more accurately described as firefights or skirmishes -- in the Legislature this year. 

The end of a 60-day session is near, and not much has changed.

Finishing up

* Betcha we might be able to get Loyola-Chicago on the Husker basketball schedule next season. Invite them to Lincoln, where 15,000 fans would be excited, welcoming and glad to see them. Worth a try. 

* The Lincoln Firefighters endorsement of Republican Sen. Deb Fischer's re-election appears to be based, at least in part, on Democratic candidate Jane Raybould's record as a member of the Lincoln City Council. The State AFL-CIO took a pass on a pre-primary endorsement in the Senate race.

* Burke Harr, referring to Ernie Chambers' free-thinking analysis of a legislative issue during debate: "He thinks like a Jesuit."

* Donald Trump's trade war is beginning to look like a war on my 401(k).  And yours. And agriculture. And rural Nebraska.

* Ernie Chambers: "My title is state senator, not district representative."

* Republican state treasurer candidate Taylor Royal of Omaha said he remains "a proud supporter of President Trump and his agenda" during remarks aired on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

* Game on: Early voting in the May 15 primary election begins Monday.  Nearly 23,000 Nebraskans have applied for early voting ballots.  

* Oh Spring, Where Art Thou?

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or

On Twitter @LJSDon.



Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

Load comments