The spring semester’s first lecture in the Center for Great Plains Studies’ Paul A. Olson Seminars in Great Plains Studies series will feature UNL economists Eric Thompson and John Anderson speaking on taxes in the region.
Anderson is a Baird Family Professor of Economics and Thompson is an associate professor of economics and the director of the Bureau of Business Research. They open the Olson series at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Great Plains Art Museum, 1155 Q St.
Taxes continue to be a highly controversial political topic, especially with recent developments in several Plains states.
Kansas has implemented deep tax reductions that produced sharp declines in state revenues and a scramble to impose budget cuts on education and other services.
In North Dakota, taxes related to the oil boom produced a huge budget surplus but also created immense needs for new roads, schools, water treatment facilities, other costly infrastructure and an economy that is sensitive to volatile world oil prices.
Colorado’s legalization and taxation of recreational marijuana is generating large revenue allocated to fund education — revenues so large, in fact, that the state may have to refund some of the tax revenue under the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
In Nebraska, newly elected Gov. Pete Ricketts has pledged to make property tax reductions his first priority rather than reducing income, corporate and other taxes. While Nebraska has a “rainy day” fund that could be dipped into, plans for reducing government spending have not yet been proffered and the state faces pressing demands for increased spending — on relieving over-crowded prisons, on a failed child welfare privatization plan, on education in school districts with large numbers of poor children and on Medicaid expansion.
How will these and other states balance popular demands for tax cuts against the needs for social services? Anderson and Thompson will survey these difficult state financial issues in the Feb. 18 talk, which is free and open to the public.
Upcoming Olson Seminars:
March 18, 3:30 p.m. — “Storage Systems for Drought Management and Food and Water Security,” Roberto Lenton, executive director of the University of Nebraska’s Water for Food Institute.
April 15, 3:30 p.m. — “The Civil War in the Great Plains” with Ken Winkle, UNL professor of American History and author of “Lincoln’s Citadel: the Civil War in Washington, D.C.”