Here's how it works:

An unelected board of Nebraskans estimates how much state revenue will be generated by existing tax rates based on economic projections and then state senators shape or slice proposed funding for state programs and services to fit within that forecast.

Now that is real power.

Once upon a time, the Legislature used to determine needs and then raise or shape the revenue required to fund them. Now, that process is reversed.

That's ceding a ton of power to an unelected board whose estimates cannot help but be shaped by personal characteristics of pessimism or optimism and perhaps even by individual views about government spending.

It also depends on where you live.

Rural members of the board were more pessimistic than urban members, an understandable division when you consider the challenges faced in rural Nebraska at the same time that the urban complex of Lincoln, Omaha and Sarpy County is experiencing both population and economic growth.

On the day after the board adopted its restrained forecast, the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln issued results of its February economic survey.

"Consumer and business confidence will contribute to economic growth in Nebraska over the next six months," Eric Thompson, the bureau's director, reported.  

* * *

There were some depressing aspects associated with watching some of that compelling House committee testimony by President Donald Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, last week.

One was a look at the quality of some of the members of the House who have been elected to serve in the Congress; the other was yet another reminder of the partisan domination of Congress.

Seek the truth; serve us, not your political party.

The hearing had a Godfather quality, even a conflicted main character named Michael whose last name starts with C. 

The most chilling moment came in Cohen's closing remarks.

"I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power," Cohen said. 

Not easily dismissed when you recall Trump's tweet three weeks after the 2016 election:  "I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."

* * *

Finishing up:

* Hey, a revenue-producing bill is on the floor of the Legislature ready for debate on Monday. That's a rare sighting. But the proposal to begin collecting all sales taxes already owed by Nebraskans for online purchases probably won't help fund any squeezed state government programs and services since there is strong legislative sentiment to hand that revenue over to property tax relief. 

* Joe Biden, challenging UNO students last week: "It's time for us to stand up and remember who the hell we are. It's time for us to lead again. I'm looking to you; I'm counting on you. I really am. There's nothing beyond your capacity. Nothing. Nothing."

* Anna Wishart nailed it when she said women in political life are "some of the best listeners I've ever met." You can see it in the Legislature, particularly during committee hearings.

* The Legislature's Revenue Committee heard a new warning during a hearing last week on tax reform bills: Farmers will begin to leave Nebraska if property taxes are not lowered, and some already have.

* Liz Cheney clearly outlined the developing 2020 Republican election message during an interview in Lincoln on Friday evening, and it spells danger for Democrats. Cheney pointed to a number of largely new voices in arguing that Democrats are promoting a radical, anti-free market, socialistic economic agenda that represents "a really hard turn left."

* Douglas Brinkley's new book taking a fresh look at America's race to the moon in the 1960s and the birth of the U.S. space program looks alluring. Lift-off for "American Moonshot" is April 2. 

* Hey, if I had wanted to live in Alaska, I would have moved to Alaska.

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.