Transparency good for taxpayers

Taxpayers have long made an understandable complaint about local government in Nebraska: Even when the property tax rate stays the same, valuations go up, so citizens wind up paying more.

The Nebraska Legislature unanimously approved a bill this year to force change on how local taxing authorities handle the process. The governing bodies for entities such as counties, municipalities, school districts, community colleges and natural resources districts still have the authority to reap the revenue gain if they choose, but the state now requires them first to hold a public hearing on the matter.

The requirement is a responsible action to promote transparency and accountability in local government. The new process better informs citizens about the taxes they pay and provides an appropriate forum in which taxpayers can directly address elected officials on the issue.

Elected officials can still move ahead with the revenue boost if they like, but not without first informing taxpayers and giving them a chance to speak.

The new process is constructive, all around. It's good to see state law promote this accountability to taxpayers.

- Omaha World-Herald

Money doesn't grow on trees

Our leaders in Washington must believe money grows on trees, or they would be more concerned about the following:

* Federal debt today exceeds $22 trillion.

* According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal budget deficit will reach roughly $900 billion this year and will exceed $1 trillion each year beginning in 2022.

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* Today, federal debt amounts to 78 percent of the gross domestic product, its highest level since shortly after World War II. The CBO projects the figure will rise to more than 100 percent of GDP in 15 years.

In spite of those numbers, the Senate followed the House and approved a budget agreement worked out with President Trump increasing spending by $320 billion over the next two years. Democratic candidates for president have proposed tens of trillions of dollars in new spending.

All of this amounts to fiscal insanity. Our children and grandchildren deserve better.

- Sioux City (Iowa) Journal

Fund health centers, preserve access

Congress should renew funding for at least five years for the program that supports federally qualified health centers to ensure stability and preserve access to health care for those who rely on these sliding-fee providers.

Federally qualified health centers are a critical part of the health care safety net in the United States. They receive funds from the Health Resources and Services Administration Health Center Program to provide primary care services in underserved areas. They particularly help care for veterans, the homeless, those in public housing and public schools as well as others.

More than 27 million people rely on these health centers for affordable, accessible primary health care. That includes one in nine children nationwide, one in three people living in poverty, one in five people in rural communities and more.

The two programs make sure medical, dental and mental health care are available regardless of insurance status and based on your ability to pay. They also save the overall health care system an estimated $24 billion.

They provide an important safety net, a good return on the investment and are well worth supporting.

- Joplin (Mo.) Globe

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