I supported the last sales tax increase for a new 911 system, but this latest proposal is an insult and injustice to the taxpayers of Lincoln.
While I fully understand, support and realize the long term savings of upgrading the street lights to LED, was it necessary to replace them all in such a short time frame?
I personally witnessed at least three separate private contractors, as well as city employees, performing this work. If city employees have available time to do this work, would it not be more financially responsible to take a year or so for this upgrade to be completed than to subcontract to private companies?
I do not support the replacement of most traffic signals to the flashing yellow arrows. I did not witness any light fixture upgrades with new lenses and programming, only complete fixture replacements. These replacements were also performed at “T” intersections where the only option is to turn left or right with no oncoming traffic to contend with. What was the cost of this project?
Several years ago, Holdrege Street between 33rd and 46th streets was completely redone while many other streets were in far worse condition. The only section of this street that desperately needs repair is the approach between 46th and 48th streets, which was completely untouched.
Now the city is spending our tax dollars to promote and advertise why we should vote for this tax increase while also substantially increasing our property valuations to further increase our tax burdens.
I’m a Christian pastor. Protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination is not a threat to my or any other Christian’s religious freedom.
Jesus, whom Christians claim to follow, never rejected or discriminated against anyone for any reason. He welcomed and interacted with people the religious elite would not: women, tax collectors, sinners, the ritually unclean, gentiles and lepers among others.
It is not our province to judge. It doesn’t matter whether we believe homosexuality is sin.
We are called to be like Christ. That means we shouldn’t discriminate against anyone, but accept them and love them as they are. Doing otherwise is not loving but hateful. That’s what the Bible says.
Let us always raise taxes on the poor because the rich need their money more.
Is that not the premise behind the choice to looking to sales tax rather than income tax for revenue to replace property tax?
There are three basic and productive sources of revenue: sales tax, property tax and income tax.
Sales tax is always the most regressive because the lower incomes pay the highest share of their income for taxes. Property taxes are often a measure of a wealth, but they frequently have little relationship with net worth, when the title owner of real estate has large debts and the lender is the wealthy one.
Corporations pay insignificant amounts of, if any sales tax, but would benefit with property tax relief. Sales tax replacement for property tax is a very generous gift to the most profitable corporations.
According to Josh Funk of the Associated Press, Berkshire Hathaway reported $4 billion in profit last year ("Buffett encourages investors to bet on US economy," Feb. 24). Only 4 percent of income tax on $4 billion would produce $160 million in revenue.
The wealth is available to give true relief to property tax problems without hurting anyone. Farmers desperately need property tax relief. Many others also need property tax relief.
If the Legislature and governor cannot grant relief, a petition drive to replace the property tax with income tax for K-12 education might be a success in lasting relief with accountability.
Given all the talk of presidential pardons for the many indicted and convicted criminals in the Trump campaign and administration, it might be time for a history lesson, recalling the wisdom of the founders.
When the Constitution was written in 1787, it needed to be ratified by the legislatures in the states before it went into effect. When the Virginia Assembly was debating whether to ratify it, George Mason and James Madison had a discussion about the pardon powers granted to the president.
George Mason objected to those powers: "Now, I conceive that the president ought not to have the power of pardoning, because he may frequently pardon crimes which were advised by himself. It may happen, at some future day, that he will establish a monarchy, and destroy the republic.
"If he has the power of granting pardons before indictment, or conviction, may he not stop inquiry and prevent detection? The case of treason ought, at least to be excepted. This is a weighty objection with me."
James Madison assured him he need not worry: "There is one security in this case to which gentlemen may not have adverted: if the president be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty. ... This is a great security."
This is indeed a great security, but only if Congress has the courage to implement it.
The Journal Star daily presents derogatory articles about President Donald Trump. One such column was by John Crisp (“How should US handle Muthana?”, March 1)
Crisp states that a young ISIS recruit named Hoda Muthana from the U.S. went to Syria to join an anti-American campaign of terror against the peoples of Syria and Iraq. Crisp then wrote several paragraphs belittling the president. After displaying his hatred for the president, he returns to tell us Hoda Muthana was barely out of high school when she decided to join the ISIS terrorist organization.
This woman was 20 years old when she decided to take money provided by her parents for her education, become an ISIS terrorist and commit treason. Muthana praised her ISIS brethren for the deaths of thousands of innocent men, woman and children.
Mr. Crisp would ask us all to bring her back to our country where she could be afforded due process. Where was the due process for the thousands of innocent people her and her ISIS friends tortured, raped or murdered?
Crisp’s due process is the idea of our U.S. government paying thousands of dollars to bring her and her child back to America. Then we, the citizens of America, can continue to foot the bill and provide her a legal defense, plus housing, welfare and education for her child.
Nonsense. Pure nonsense.
John Crisp is another liberal Democrat who cannot accept the fact that President Trump won the 2016 election. Crisp’s article was not just about Hoda Muthana. Crisp’s article was to create a platform so he could show his hatred for President Donald Trump. Equally important, his article is to open a pathway for people like Hoda Muthana to be able to return to this country.
They played together as a true team in the BIG tournament and had a lot of people rooting for them in their obvious underdog role. They had that Jimmy Valvano attitude -- ”Don’t give up; don’t ever give up” -- and their spirit didn’t. It was their legs and arms that finally let them down through pure exhaustion.
No matter when is the last time we get to watch you play together on the court, thank you, guys -- and especially you seniors -- for the passion and love you showed us in these last games.
Increasing sales tax for street repair is a great idea. That means you can reduce or repeal the wheel tax that’s also for street repair. It would be would be great to revoke the wheel tax.
An article in the Journal Star from August 2013 stated that, at that time, Lincoln already had a higher wheel tax than Omaha ("Wheel tax increase 3rd in row," Aug. 26, 2013).
Are roads more expensive to maintain in Lincoln than in Omaha? Otherwise, you’re saying you need to raise sales taxes along with the existing wheel taxes to maintain the streets.
Please explain why that is. Seems like a duplicate tax to me.
Lincoln already tends to have higher gasoline prices than the entire Omaha metro; maybe you could add some more tax to gasoline in Lincoln, too, to get the trifecta!
That same 2013 article also stated that the wheel tax is generally the second highest of the motor vehicle taxes and fees, behind the state motor vehicle tax, paid by owners of newer cars and trucks every year as part of the registration process, in Lincoln.
I think the City of Lincoln Maintenance Department did a great job with the most recent snow storm.
As a retired district maintenance superintendent in District One during the '70s and '80s, we had many storms similar -- and they are hard to deal with.
When it is as cold as it was, the chemical doesn't work like it should. The crews become frustrated, tired and stressed out because they are working as hard as they can, but nothing seems to work like it should. It is also hard on equipment.
I don't think those who were critical have any idea how hard it is to get the streets passable under the conditions.
As others have pointed out, counties can create wind zoning ordinances right now if they so desire, and some have.
The problem LB373 addresses is the fact other counties that have and are hosting wind energy projects have chosen not to enact zoning ordinances. This causes a problem because many citizens in those counties feel like they are being ignored by their elected officials. Sen. Brewer introduced LB373 for this very reason.
The process of enacting zoning is a very public affair, giving all of the citizens numerous opportunities to participate in and be heard. Unfortunately, by not adopting zoning, citizens feel ignored, which perpetuates and fuels division in the community. Quite a few people and groups would like to see no obstacles in front of wind energy development in Nebraska, so they oppose LB373.
The nonparticipating landowner who is forced to be a neighbor to these massive industrial facilities often has a different opinion. The intent of LB373 was to see that the opinions of all the citizens are heard. At the very least, regardless of the zoning ultimately produced from this process, no one will be able to say their voice hadn’t been heard. Perhaps some healing can occur once everyone has had their say.
Only bad ideas have reason to fear the sunlight of the public forum. If wind energy really does have all of the virtues its supporters claim, it should welcome this process.
Nebraska needs to prevent its young and ambitious workforce from leaving to other tech-developing states.
Bill Maher recently made distasteful assumptions about rural America on his show, such as "There are two Americas, and it seems like ... our roofs have solar panels; theirs have last year’s Christmas lights." Maher’s comments were in light of the Bezos-New York deal that was abandoned by the Amazon CEO.
However, it must be addressed that some of Maher’s words hold merit, like the idea that tech can actually provide local improvements. Arguments regarding Nebraska’s broadband service further the urban-rural divide.
Consequently, legislative action, such as LB184, LB208 and LB549 aim to improve everything from agriculture technology to small business logistics. It is not uncommon to find a business that makes around 90 percent of its profit from online sales.
A state that has fallen behind on broadband, such as Nebraska, will not retain a native or influential workforce if technology continues to be inadequate. Development in technology and the support of such bills could make the 90 percent of Nebraska land used for farming more appealing for business owners and local start-ups.
Other states are rapidly making progress in the tech industry and leaving Nebraska in their dust. Iowa recently passed a bill similar to LB184 and saw an increase in investments for small cell technology. New investments within Nebraska would provide opportunities to strengthen infrastructure and solidify our young workforce.
Nebraskans need to learn how to adapt with technology so we can retain our workforce and not fall behind other states.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assures us that Rep. Ilhan Omar's alleged anti-Semitic hate speech was the unintended consequence of Omar's having had a "different experience with words," resulting thereby in her being misinterpreted.
Omar, however, is evidently an intelligent woman who speaks English fluently, and Pelosi's evaluation is patronizing nonsense aimed at a woman of color, disparaging her intelligence. Indeed, one might invoke "racism" in this instance.
Any reasonable observer should give Omar credit for expressing herself clearly. She hates Jews and the nation of Israel. In this, she forcefully speaks for many in America's so-called "progressive" political culture.
Give her credit where credit is due. Hate speech is not difficult to craft, understand or speak, and Omar has mastered it well.
Some Nebraska legislators need a lesson in the First Amendment -- especially those voting no on LB627, the protections for LGBTQ workers.
Sens. Julie Slama, Suzanne Geist, Rob Clements and Dave Murman brought a metaphorical Bible to the fight and that violated the religious freedoms they thought they were defending.
You can’t have religious freedom without freedom from religion. Those senators trying to influence the voting with religious votes were in fact applying religious beliefs to LB627.
The First Amendment says that public law must be free of the influence of religion and may not favor one religious belief over another. Take your Bible with you to your church, but don’t bring it to the Legislature.
I strongly support James Michael Bowers for City Council. He’s been invested in the neighborhood through many community organizations and knows the needs of northeast Lincoln.
As a social worker, James knows how strong families and strong neighborhoods contribute to a vibrant and growing city. As a public school employee, he gets to work with families and students from incredibly diverse backgrounds. His time on the boards of directors for the Northeast Family Center and Fresh Start Home show dedication to the community and to listening to folks from both sides of the aisle.
I also see him reaching out and helping students every day at Dawes Middle School. He knows those students well and is always putting their needs first.
He truly cares for the people of Lincoln and knows what it takes to make our city. That's why I am backing James Michael Bowers.
With the upcoming city elections, I worry where candidates stand on the issue of money. I’ve only seen one candidate so far who has displayed an attitude of fiscal responsibility and common-sense decision making, Jeff Kirkpatrick.
He’s the only candidate who has decided to wait before making a final decision on property taxes. He’s said he wants to get a feel for the city’s budget before making any hard decisions to raise or lower property tax rates.
He’s also the only candidate who has suggested putting a cap on the money raised from the sales taxes for roads, so I know that we won’t be overtaxed.
I’ve been highly impressed by Jeff Kirkpatrick and his decision of where he’s been standing on issues. He’s not a shoot-from-the-hip kind of guy; he thinks carefully, but he is willing to make hard decisions and be decisive about issues that affect the City of Lincoln.
As someone who has worked alongside James Michael Bowers in supporting the advancement of foster youth in the Lincoln community and seeing his commitment to empowering those around him -- personally and professionally -- I strongly support him for City Council.
He’s been invested in the neighborhood through many community organizations and is keenly aware of northeast Lincoln's needs.
As a social worker, James knows how strong and diverse families help make up strong neighborhoods and contribute to a vibrant and growing city. His time on the Northeast Family Center and Fresh Start Home boards of directors show dedication to the community and to listening to folks from both sides of the aisle.
He truly cares for this city and knows what it takes to make it better. We need someone with his dedication, passion and perspective in leadership. That's why I am backing James Michael Bowers.
As a farmer in southeastern Nebraska and president of the Milford Public Schools Board of Education, I am deeply familiar with Nebraska’s property tax problem. Twenty years on a school board and even more in the field have allowed me to advocate for solutions to our senators.
I write to express my opposition to Legislative Resolution 8, a constitutional amendment (LR8CA), which would harm public education in Nebraska by setting caps on local tax authority. I believe the people of Nebraska elected our legislators to come up with legislative solutions to high property taxes, not make it a constitutional issue.
The only reason that some believe there is a need for LR8CA is because they believe there is a spending problem. There is not a spending problem within education across Nebraska.
Over the past 10 years, school budgets have increased by slightly more than 3 percent annually, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office, barely covering cost of living increases. Despite this controlled growth, under this constitutional amendment, schools and local governments would be locked into a 3 percent cap, restricting spending growth to a level that even our state budget surpasses.
Our governor and a few others keep saying, “spending is the problem.” Frankly, just because something is said long enough and loud enough does not make it true.
In regard to lowering property taxes, it has also been said over and over that the solution should not come from “new taxes” or a “tax shift.” Both of these have already occurred. And, they have occurred most recently on the backs of property owners in rural districts who receive equalization aid from the state.
As agricultural land values went up, equalization aid went down. In most of these districts, for every dollar lost in state aid, it had to be replaced with increased property taxes. In addition, if those lost state aid funds had not been replaced by property taxes, the education of Nebraska’s students would have suffered.
The challenge before the Legislature is to do the right thing for all of Nebraska.
I would suggest that their first step should be to adjust agricultural land valuations down to 40 percent within the school funding formula to bring back equalization aid to those districts that were hit the hardest by increased property taxes. Then, move on to increasing special education reimbursements from 50 percent to 80 percent and providing supplemental aid outside of the equalization formula to all students across Nebraska.
To provide real relief, the Legislature will need to increase other taxes or use some of the current Property Tax Credit Fund. Rather than entertaining the idea of reducing the top corporate and personal income tax rates, senators should be discussing the addition of tax brackets and closing tax loopholes that leak millions of dollars from our state budget.
Senators have been elected to legislate solutions to the No. 1 issue in the state, property tax relief. I encourage our state senators to do so this year.
There is no greater return on investment to Nebraskans than to assure affordable access to students in quality University of Nebraska programs that are delivering graduates prepared to excel in the state’s workforce – in classrooms, laboratories, offices, fields, factories and studios.
This investment is especially important for Nebraska’s low-income and first-generation students, who are succeeding in unimaginable ways at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Two UNK programs making a difference for dozens of Nebraska students are the Thompson Scholars and Kearney Bound Scholars.
Thompson Scholars, supported by the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, provides scholarships and a learning community that helps make a university education attainable for students, many of whom face risk factors to success. In 2017, the Buffett Foundation supported 438 UNK Thompson Scholars. Retention and graduation rates for these students are higher than rates for our overall undergraduate students, with nearly eight of 10 graduating within six years.
In the Kearney Bound program, 30 high school students each year are selected from North Platte, Lexington and Kearney. In collaboration with these high schools, scholars complete requirements for full admission to UNK through special preparations and programming. Pell Grant-eligible and mostly first-generation, these scholars earn free UNK tuition and room and board. The Kearney Bound students’ first-year retention continues to average around 90 percent, and a six-year graduation rate of about 70 percent. Most of the scholars in these programs stay in Nebraska after they graduate.
Our partnership with Nebraska’s community colleges has also improved students’ abilities to afford a degree and become successful at the University of Nebraska.
A new Pathway program as a collaboration with Central Community College is offered for students who initially fall short of admissions requirements. The CCC Pathway creates a supportive program to help applicants meet UNK admission requirements by co-enrolling their first year at CCC and UNK. Students benefit from UNK student services, amenities and organizations and can live on campus while taking most of their classes at CCC.
Nationally, 23 percent of community college students who dream of graduating with a four-year degree are successful. At UNK, our community college transfer students graduate at more than double the national average and are retained at rates similar to our traditional incoming freshmen. Considering these students are generally more diverse, less financially secure and very often first-generation college students, their graduation rates far surpass expectations.
These programs are expensive – but a worthwhile investment that continues to improve individual Nebraskans’ lives, and the businesses and organizations that need these graduates in their communities.
Nebraskans often hear of demand for talent across the state, especially where unemployment rates are low and industry demands are stressing local resources. A few high-demand areas are K-12 and early childhood educators, science-technology-engineering and math (STEM) fields, new fields such as cyber systems and cybersecurity and, of course, health care professions.
A program starting this fall will work to increase access and affordability, and fill gaps in high-need fields, in particular, teaching.
The new Teachers Scholars Academy supported by the William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation provides full-tuition and partial education expenses for future teachers, and 40 UNK students will earn this scholarship and academy.
For a UNK student, the value of this scholarship is worth $24,000 in tuition alone. Over four years, and including covered expenses, the package is worth roughly $56,000. This means hundreds of future teachers will graduate from the University of Nebraska debt-free and ready to make a difference in schools across Nebraska and the country.
With the important collaborations from education partners and donors, and our strong relationships with businesses and organizations across Nebraska, UNK is hearing, and responding to, the workforce needs of Nebraska communities. One important way of doing that is by investing in access and success programs that help make college attainable to Nebraska students and their families.
As the faculty adviser to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Turkish Students Association, I help with cultural interactions among students from Turkey and our Nebraska friends and colleagues.
Today, I want to comment on LB640, which includes the phrase: “[M]ulticultural education includes, but is not limited to, …. the Holocaust and other acts of genocide, which may include, but not be limited to, such acts in Armenia, Ukraine, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan.”
While we commend the intent of LB640 to provide Nebraska students with an understanding of horrible loss-of-life events in human history and how they occurred, we feel that the bill has been constructed without sufficient research on whether all of the countries and instances listed have been classified as genocide by the United States and by the United Nations.
This bill will provide directives on historical materials to be used by the educational systems in Nebraska. It is therefore important that the materials be accurate.
While the deaths of possibly 1 million Turkish Armenians during World War I marked a horrible and catastrophic loss of life, the U.S. and UN have not classified this as a genocide. The large loss of Armenian people occurred near and during the time of World War I when Turkey was aligned with the German alliance and was fighting against Russia.
There were large losses of life among all cultures and people groups involved, including Turks and Russians. Many Armenians in Turkey were relocated during the war because of fear that some may align with Russian military actions, where Russians largely shared the Armenian Orthodox heritage and promoted Armenian independence for parts of Turkey. Many deaths occurred from starvation because of very poor logistics in Turkey and chaos caused by war and the forced relocations.
I do agree that this was a period of regrettable, catastrophic loss of life by both Armenians and Turks, and I strongly empathize with the Armenian people. As a former Turkish citizen, I apologize to them for these losses. I love and respect the Armenian people and culture.
Even though the bill contains the words “may include, but not be limited to," we are concerned that countries and situations listed will be given priority in the directive and emphasis in educational materials. The education of children is important to Nebraska, as they are our future and we want to give them complete and unbiased truth and understanding of human history.
All catastrophic losses should be studied by Nebraska students to provide an understanding that these horrible events can occur under a broad range of circumstances and that we must not allow them to be repeated. If our children are informed that only specific countries have experienced genocide, or that catastrophic events are mislabeled as genocide, it can imply that only those countries are ones to criticize and to harbor negative feelings against.
We hope that LB640 can remove “Armenia," since that regrettable WWI-era loss of life has not been universally concluded to be a genocide.
The LB640 list of countries does not include genocides ongoing right now in Myanmar that Nebraska students can work to prevent. It does not list the very large atrocities by Japan against Chinese and Koreans during WWII that massacred millions. It does not refer to the catastrophic reductions in the Native population that occurred as a result of western expansion.
As a mother of two daughters in Lincoln Public Schools, I desire that Nebraska's K-12 students not be inappropriately impacted in their hearts and minds against the Turkish culture. Turkey, today, is a modern democracy founded in 1923 (after WWI) and, although it is currently suffering from some abuses of journalists, academics and opposition parties, it is reaching out to all cultures, including the more than 4 million Syrian refugees who have fled to Turkey.
We also don't want this bill to affect future cultural exchanges between Nebraskans and Turkish people; for example, an ongoing archaeological project in Turkey that involves a large number of academicians and students from UNL and Turkish universities. This has been one of the most internationally recognized excavations in Turkey and brings international recognition and exposure to UNL scholars and researchers.
Therefore, the list is neither balanced nor complete. It may be possible to remove specific mention of any country from the list and still maintain the directive to teach about catastrophic loss of life events around the globe and through history.