Last Friday I had the privilege of having lunch with the good folks from the Great Plains Tax Institute. I had spoken the previous day at the Institute on the topic of Important Developments in Federal Income Taxation, and Friday was my day to learn a few things and soak in the ambiance.
At lunch, Nebraska's governor, Dave Heineman, was the invited guest. As readers of this blog are likely to appreciate, we truly have a pro-growth governor. Governor Heineman is focusing on the tax structures of the state, which come out unfavorably when compared to other states. In fact, Nebraska rates 6th from the bottom in some categories. That is something that concerns him, and this is an issue that is animating his policy choices for the coming term.
Cutting tax rates and spending are going to be important priorities for this governor. He has a realistic, no-nonsense view about how the two must go together. He recognizes that the folks who like lower taxes are also ones who sometimes come to him asking for more government spending in their pet programs. To this, he gives a cautionary warning: he's not going to play along. Unlike the past Congress in Washington, he intends to keep a watch on spending.
His themes were pro-growth for individuals and business, and constrained growth for government. He pointed out we have more government than we can afford, and we need to be smart about cutting it. I was very encouraged. Unfortunately, I heard no similar discussion of the issues in my home state of Iowa, which also ranks low on the Tax Foundation metrics of competition. That is a shame.
I have high hopes for this Governor, and we will watch and comment on these pages as to how his battles are faring.