Press Releases

  • February 27, 2013 9:29 PM | Anonymous

    Omaha is driving headlong into the battered, struggling, cash strapped, ranks of other cities struggling with public sector unions whose exorbitant contracts , written in good economic times, are now dragging  those communities into grave financial distress and in some cases bankruptcy.


    This week, further illustration of the gravity of this situation was evidenced by the Financial Times of London, who released a story on Omaha's unfunded  pension liability.  London Financial Times 2-26-13  The article, while tipping its hat to "actuarial analysis," and "Actuarially Required Contribution Rates" gets to the meat of the matter:  unfunded pension liability of  $794,300,000.00  in its two pension systems!


    $794 million!  More than double the general fund revenue!  The first question is what can be done to bring this explosive and debilitating issue under control?  This question should be addressed by every mayoral  candidate at every opportunity.  What about going from 4 men on  a  truck to 3 men on  a truck?  Why do 4 firemen have to take a fire truck with every ambulance call?  Would a private ambulance firm save money and reduce the number of firemen needed?  Why is the City paying for EMT training, then paying them additional  monies only to have them retire at age 45?     This is all money going out the door, hard cash!  "Rates of return, actuarial contribution rates, 50 years to balance" are terms that mask the real issue: $794 million unfunded pension liability and ballooning!  This must be resolved before moving into new initiatives.


    THEN we can talk about the positive side of getting this under control.  More money and resources for police officers in troubled neighborhoods,  new fire equipment that is more effective and less labor intensive, longer pool hours in the summer,  better maintenance of parks, more services to welcome new businesses (and jobs).  How about better roads and  transportation systems and bus routes that make sense and serve the population?


    Public Safety absorbs 60% of our revenue. 60%!  Controlling this expense and thwarting its dire impact is mandatory  before anything else can be considered.  We already have a wheel tax, restaurant tax, occupation  tax, real  estate tax, sales tax, and higher building permit fees.  What's left?   Cut spending.


    There is  hope. We  have a primary and election for city offices in front of us.  The time is at hand to quiz this class of candidates with the hard questions, then vote, then pray the successful candidates have the courage, the commitment, the intellect to see the problems, resolve them, and install a city government we can be proud of, support, and even brag about.


    A much brighter future for Omaha can be attained.  The Financial Times is waiting to write the  next installment.  VOTE.

     

  • February 08, 2013 1:31 PM | Anonymous
    Recently, Governor Heineman announced a proposal to eliminate both corporate and personal income tax and many sales tax exemptions in Nebraska. This bold new plan is long overdue in a state with prohibitively high taxes, particularly compared to the surrounding low tax states.
    Nebraska needs to reposition itself not only for regional competition, but for global competition, as well. And, like it or not, this Great Recession is reshaping the local, national, and world-wide economy for all. Individuals, localities, and states must change with the times or go the way of a Detroit or the travel agent (with no offense to either – these are just tough times).

    By restructuring the tax policy in Nebraska, the Governor and the legislature can reposition Nebraska for future growth. We must be a state that retains our brightest graduates and attracts people and businesses to live, work, and stay here. Currently, that is not happening as much as it should. Our rural populations are dwindling and our cities populations have stagnated. It is time to throw off the policies of the nineteenth century and adopt the policies that work for these new economic times.

    For instance, Nebraska has been in a rural vs. urban tug-of-war for years. This must stop. Agriculture and urban interests must learn to cooperate for the greater good of the whole state. Every interest, farming, manufacturing, corporate, and labor, must give up some outdated special treatment in exchange for future growth. Pitting interests against each other is a failed, but all too common, practice in this state. Having a thoughtful and honest conversation about taxes will lead us to a more meaningful understanding of these relationships.

    To begin with, the Omaha-Lincoln corridor cannot pay the freight for the rest of the state. Smaller communities must deal with their declining populations realistically. No one wants the state to empty out and it is in everyone’s interest to maintain a balance, but efficiencies must be found in the rural areas. Likewise for agriculture – no one wants to abandon this time honored livelihood, but taxpayers cannot subsidize these operations.

    Likewise, while Omaha may be entitled to keep more of its bounty, that city must put its economic house in order. You cannot expect the rest of the state to take cries of “poverty” seriously when you give your retiring superintendent a million dollars plus payout or pay 3 police chiefs under 50 years of age $10 million dollars in retirements. You cannot give teachers, firemen, and police $100,000 “sick bank” payouts. Nor can you give the Medical Center a huge payout for a Cancer Center that its own Foundation didn’t pay for and then claim you have no money for county services. This folly must stop.

    Everyone, every industry and interest, must take a fair and realistic look at their own tax and revenue transgressions and true needs as we debate the Governor’s visionary new proposal. The Omaha Alliance is a collection of small business taxpayers – we must succeed for all to succeed. We advocate for good, smart government, which critically includes sound tax policies. This is especially true for “little guy” amid the big lobbying, special interests in this debate. There is concern over what these special interests may lose, but there is much more to be gained for all. (See, http://www.platteinstitute.org/blog/detail/the-benefits-of-eliminating-the-income-tax).

    The Governor is giving this state an opportunity to reexamine our statewide commitment to fair, sound, just taxation. We must take it.  Let’s all roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of working through this discussion. It will benefit all of us in the long run. The Omaha Alliance wholeheartedly supports the Governor’s efforts.



    FOR COMMENT OR STATEMENT
    PLEASE CONTACT:  Nicole Jesse,
            Alliance Vice-President
            402-660-7760
  • September 26, 2012 1:29 PM | Anonymous

    PO Box 31696

    Omaha, NE 68131

    402-502-1630

    www.OmahaAlliance.com

    info@OmahaAlliance.com


    September 25, 2012

    Omaha City Council Hearing

    Occupation Tax & UNMC Funding

    Chip Maxwell for the Omaha Alliance for the Private Sector.

    A quick field report. Yesterday I was at a convenience mart at 72nd & F. At the counter I noticed a petition opposing this tax. I didn’t know a petition was out there. I asked the proprietor if people were signing. He was glad to say that hundreds of signatures had been collected at his store, but he was also nervous because petition signers were furiously vowing to take their business a half-mile south to Ralston, or two miles down the road to Harrison Street, if this tax goes through.

    The main argument for the tax is that the project will cure various forms of cancer and produce robust economic development, jobs, and increased tax revenue. But all of these things are going to happen regardless of this tax. All of the wonderful things UNMC does that we have heard about today will continue happening regardless of this tax. The project is going forward no matter what. The chancellor does not announce his resignation to take over the cancer center if there’s any doubt about the success of the project. UNMC has other options. Meanwhile, Omaha taxpayers and benefactors do plenty for UNMC already. There’s no obligation for Omaha taxpayers to make this extra contribution. In fact, Omaha is not in a fiscal position to make gratuitous investments in state projects that are going forward anyway. Just stay out of the way and let it happen.

    I suspect the reason some of you may not be content to stay out of the way is because some powerful people are telling you that you’d better darn well get in the middle of this and make this tax happen. You have to choose between UNMC and some of its high-level donors, and the taxpayers of Omaha.

    Being on the wrong side of UNMC is a tough place to be. I know. I’ve been there. As a state senator I helped UNMC on a number of projects, including getting $7 million of tobacco settlement money directed to UNMC every year for research. But in my last political race, a donor who had supported me in previous campaigns, someone whose name you’d recognize, shut me out and sent my opponent a check for $3,000 because of my opposition to UNMC on a particular issue. Politics can be a rough game.

    In today’s paper a column by UNMC congratulates five council members for their support – and by exclusion slaps the other two across the face. That in itself is amazing, but it raises a more pertinent question: Is this a done deal? I choose to be an optimist and believe that we are not just going through empty motions here because the issue is still in play.

    It isn’t the cancer center proposal that has the Alliance on red alert. It’s the disturbing specter of the occupation tax. It appears the city has found a new toy, the double sales tax, with virtually limitless possibilities. It’s another example of city hall viewing the private sector as an ATM for government. That’s exactly the kind of attitude the Alliance was formed to fight.

    Please stop the occupation tax in its tracks by rejecting these ordinances.

    Thank you.

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