Unicameral Finally Made Unlisted Tax Committee Legal After 30 Years

In the week and a half before the election, we gave two presentations about Proposed Amendments No. 3 and 4 on the Nebraska ballot, which would have extended the term limits for Nebraska State Senators Nebraskans voted into the State Constitution in 2000 and would have increased their salaries from $12,000 to $22,500 per year.

We decided to focus on those two Amendments because we knew, based on our research and direct experiences, that our State Legislators consistently seek very wrong solutions to some big problems in our Unicameral. We focus on  just one of those problems here which just keeps rearing its ugly head.

I’ll be as gracious in labeling this problem in language as kind as I can muster…

LEGALLY QUESTIONABLE actions

To wit, I submit for readers’ consideration, a very interesting Committee Meeting transcript from July 20, 2012.

What it proves:

  • A Special Legislative committee (see footnote1), the Tax Rate Review Committee, which existed for 30 years, was never authorized under Nebraska law
  • After operating without legal authorization, the Committee received legal legitimacy in April, 2012 formerly/http://www.scribd.com/doc/113071512
  • The Committee decides whether or not tax rate adjustments – increases or decreases – are necessary
  • The Committee has the power to petition the Governor to convene a Special Session of the Legislature to make tax rate adjustments, a power granted which is, in and of itself, questionable under the Nebraska Constitution, see footnote2
  • The Tax Rate Review Committee meets twice per year

What it also reveals…

Quality of State Senators

  • A unelected career bureaucrat is looked to by Legislators as the authority figure, not the other way around
  • A State Senator who is the Committee’s Chair…
    • Doesn’t even know how often the Committee is supposed to convene
    • Doesn’t know what its powers are
    • Doesn’t seem to understand the information conveyed, so he looks to the bureaucrat to interpret the information for him AND to direct the outcome
  • An unelected career bureaucrat spends the majority of the time talking during an incredibly brief meeting (a 4 page transcript is VERY short)
  • Senators asked very few questions besides those that would allow very quick adjournment

Willful Budgetary Blindness

  • Another example of the perpetual portrayals of the state budget as healthy, when it’s clear there’s trouble on the horizon
  • A future shortfall of $600 million is noted
  • “Potential legislative actions” aren’t / can’t be calculated in projections, so even the projections are particularly unrealistic
  • Nebraska Retirement Systems is perpetually underfunded but not identified as a shortfall, Medicaid costs have done nothing but grow and saw yet another expansion which undoubtedly isn’t properly quantified in projections, health care law implementation is not factored into projections, etc., etc.

Questions raised by these facts:

  • Why isn’t this committee listed on the Nebraska Legislature website as others are?
  • How many other committees exist within the Nebraska Legislature which are not authorized by law and/or are not listed on the Legislature website?
  • Who decided to create this committees?
  • Why hasn’t anyone serving in the Unicameral blown the whistle on this committee’s existence?
  • Why is the Tax Rate Review Committee necessary?
  • Does the Tax Rate Review Committee only exist to provide legal cover – a rubber stamp – for decisions made by bureaucrats?
  • Is the Tax Rate Review Committee essentially a 50th legislative seat provided for Mike Calvert?
  • Don’t tax rate adjustments fall under the legal jurisdiction of the Revenue Committee?
  • What provisions exist for the ethical violations involved?

 

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About Stubborn_Facts
Shelli Dawdy is first and foremost the mother of three children whom she has taught at home via the classical method since removing her children from school in 2001. During her early years as a homeschool mother, she worked part-time as a freelance writer. Born and raised in the Iowa, Shelli and her husband moved to the state of South Dakota in 1997, attracted to its more limited government and friendly tax environment. In 2006, Shelli and her family relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska, when her husband’s employer offered a new position. She took a break from work and politics for a time, recognizing the need to focus solely on her childrens’ schooling with two now of high school age. Distressed by many things she was witnessing on the national political scene and disillusioned about the Republican Party, she decided to start writing again, this time online. Motivated to get involved with others at the grassroots level, she networked with activists on the social media tool, Twitter. She was involved in organizing the first tea party rallies inspired by Rick Santelli’s “rant” on CNBC in February 2009. Recognizing that activism should generate on the local level, she founded Grassroots in Nebraska in March of 2009. The group’s mission is a return to Constitutional, limited government, according to its original meaning. While the group has held several tea party rallies, it’s focus is to take effective action. Among its many projects, GiN successfully coordinated testimony for the hearing of the Nebraska Sovereignty Resolution, networked with other groups to ensure a large show of public support at the hearing, and coordinated follow up support to ensure its passage in April 2010. While working to build up GiN throughout 2009, she was asked to work as writer and producer of the documentary film, A New America, which lays out how Progressivism is responsible for how America has moved away from its Constitutional roots. You can see more of her work on Grassroots in Nebraska (GiN) and StubbornFacts

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