State needs broad workforce plan

Bryan Slone, president of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is right when he says, "This is now the most pressing economic issue in the state." In all, more than 36,000 jobs are unfilled across the state, according to the Nebraska Department of Labor.

But Nebraska has tremendous potential to turn the problem around. We should strive to be a national leader on this issue. We can show the rest of the country how smart planning and a collaborative, can-do attitude can help a state make strides on workforce development.

Here are some of the main ingredients for a successful Nebraska response: Up-to-date training facilities. Collaboration between industry and educational institutions. Soundly structured incentives and supports to promote a skilled workforce and related startups. Competitive salaries, as much as practically possible. Quality-of-life considerations including affordable housing, strong schools, attractive public amenities and — not least — a community spirit that welcomes workers of all backgrounds.

The 21st-century economy offers big opportunities for Nebraska. Through sound planning and energetic coordination, we can and should strive to be a national leader.

- Omaha World-Herald

Community schools have potential

Grand Island Public Schools has embarked on a unique approach to educating children with its community schools pilot project at Lincoln Elementary School.

This approach sees the schools as the center of the community for the families of their students. The goal is to help the families see the schools as the place to go for information and to access community services.

Community schools events have included CPR, fire prevention, first aid and parenting classes, as well as an art event. Upcoming events include a dental clinic, child growth and development classes, a car seat event and adult nutrition classes.

These have the potential of meeting numerous health and safety needs of families with young children.

It will take time to build the connection with the parents so that more of them participate in these programs, but the school district sees this as a way to help students succeed by building healthy families. When young children see their parents becoming more active at their school, that encourages them to value their education and enjoy going to school.

- Grand Island Independent

Better angels emerge at Legislature

Lawmakers last Thursday gave 40-0 first-round approval to Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne's proposed constitutional amendment (LR14CA) that would extend the maximum length of tax increment financing projects in "extremely blighted" areas from 15 to 20 years.

With that, the Legislature started working through other bills held up all week by the same kind of partisan-tinged sniping that poisoned it two sessions ago.

LR14CA stalled March 26, apparently not to return. That started a chain of events — involving, as such chains often do, other senators and unrelated bills — that left Wayne and several other senators vowing to block bills important to our region.

We were alarmed by that prospect. Nebraska has too many pressing issues for the state's 49 lawmakers to again spend the rest of their session at loggerheads.

After rancor on the floor Tuesday and Wednesday, Wayne's amendment suddenly appeared at the top of last Thursday’s agenda. Senators were asking and answering constructive questions.

All Nebraskans should be proud. That's how George W. Norris and his fellow Unicameral founding fathers intended their creation to work.

Bravo to senators for working things out.

- North Platte Telegraph

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