Nebraska Republicans Believe That Rich People Don’t Have Enough Money

Dennis Crawford
5 min readNov 27, 2023
The Nebraska GOP also believes that the poor and middle class have it too easy.

When the Republicans grab power, they make comforting the already comfortable one of their top priorities. They always cut taxes for the rich and throw some crumbs to the middle class to help them market their give away to the GOP donor base. Governor Jim Pillen and the thirty two Republicans in the forty nine seat Nebraska legislature are no exception.

During the most recent legislative session, Pillen and the Republicans passed a massive $3 billion tax cut package. Nebraska’s top personal income tax rate was slashed from from 6.64% to 3.99% by 2027. Corporate tax rates were reduced from 7.25% to 3.99% by 2027.

In typical GOP fashion, the Pillen tax scheme heavily favored the wealthy. According to the Open Sky Institute, the top 20% of Nebraska income earners grabbed 75% of the income tax benefits. The bottom 20% received tax cuts averaging a measly $5. In addition, 83% of the corporate tax cut will flow out of state.

“Cutting too deep, too fast has consequences,” said Danielle Conrad, in reference to the failed Kansas tax cuts of 2012. The proponents of the Kansas tax cuts predicted an economic boom but instead massive declines in tax revenue required Kansas to cut spending on education, colleges and infrastructure. Eventually, most of the reckless tax cuts were reversed and Kansas elected a Democratic governor to clean up the mess.

“We are going down that rabbit hole knowing full well that these additional tax cuts, corporate individual, are not sustainable,” Senator Jane Raybould said. Senator Wendy DeBoer stated: “We are giving an extraordinarily large tax cut to the wealthiest Nebraskans. And we are giving a much smaller tax cut to the middle class.”

We have learned from previous tax cuts for the wealthy and the corporations that they aren’t free and don’t pay for themselves. They really aren’t true tax cuts — they are a tax shift. Eventually, the poor and middle class pay for them in the way of diminished services. The Nebraska GOP believes that rich people don’t have enough money and that the poor and middle class have it too easy.

The bill is now coming due for the Pillen and Republican tax cuts. The University of Nebraska system will be funding this give away to the rich through program cuts and layoffs that will hurt the state’s economy.

At the flagship University of Lincoln (UNL) campus, academic departments will be required to to cut millions of dollars from their budgets and even some degree programs are being cut. There will be cuts to operational and instructional expenses, as well as funding related to inclusion and diversity, and economic development and research. This most likely caused University of Nebraska president Ted Carter to leave for Ohio State.

The most draconian cuts are at the University of Nebraska-Kearney (UNK.) The Kearney campus will be forced to end several academic degrees and terminate twenty four full-time faculty positions. Three departments will be shuttered and thirteen degrees will be eliminated.

University of Nebraska President Ted Carter had made rejoining the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), a high priority for his administration. This is a group of research universities. The University of Nebraska was a member of this organization until it was kicked out in 2011 for a failure to meet several important measures.

Unfortunately, the proposed cuts to university funding run counter to this goal established by Carter and the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. University leaders had previously announced their intention to increase research spending, fund faculty hires and take other steps to earn an invitation back into the Association of American Universities. You don’t cut your way into the AAU, but that’s essentially what Pillen and the Nebraska GOP are trying to do.

These cuts are penny wise and pound foolish. It’s like eating your seed corn. “The NU System’s academic activities have an annual impact of $5.8 billion on Nebraska’s economy, and the university supports 1 out of every 27 jobs in the state. In addition, 1 out of every 7 working-age Nebraskans has a University of Nebraska degree.” The University of Nebraska System.

It’s utterly ridiculous that Nebraska is cutting funding for UNL and UNK during an economic boom and a time of flush revenues. Economic forecasters for the legislature recently found that Pillen and the legislature will have an additional $40 million to invest in the state budget next year.

Thanks to the Nebraska GOP’s regressive policies, Nebraska is facing a crisis — our young people are leaving the state in droves. Cutting the University of Nebraska system to fund a tax cut for the rich and corporations will only exacerbate this problem. Nebraska already has one of the worst outmigration rankings in the country when it comes to young people leaving the state. Nebraska ranks very poorly — 40th overall.

Over the last 10 years, Nebraska has lost approximately 2,000 college graduates a year to brain drain. “So it doesn’t sound like a ton in any one particular year, but if you add that up over 10, 20 or 30 years,” said David Drozd of the University of Nebraska-Omaha. “It gets up into the millions and billions of dollars of lost taxable revenue.”

The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Public Affairs has studied Nebraska’s brain drain crisis. Of the 20 categories of reasons they left, tax relief was not one of them. Young people are leaving the state due to low wages and the GOP’s toxic culture wars. Nebraska’s corporate inspired so-called “ right to work” (for less) law has suppressed wages for all of our citizens.

In a debate on the floor of the legislature in 2021, Senator Megan Hunt addressed the issue of the exodus of talented young people from Nebraska. Hunt criticized GOP senators for “not doing things to increase the state’s population and grow the tax base, which she has said would include things like increasing the minimum wage and enacting stronger protections for LGBT people.”

“You are all in a hamster wheel, going around and around and around, trying to figure out the solution, trying literally any harebrained idea that comes your way, except for the ideas that’ll actually work,” Hunt said.

Despite these setbacks, there is still real hope for the people of Nebraska. Other states that have suffered from one party GOP rule in the past have successfully broken the GOP’s grip on power. Colorado used to be a red state but now it is solidly blue. Virginia is now nearly blue. Georgia has transitioned from being a red state to a purple or battleground state. This examples prove that there is hope for Nebraska.

The 2024 elections will be here before you know it. Already, numerous good Democrats have announced runs for the legislature around the state. I would urge you to invest your time and money in some of the legislative races. The composition of the legislature makes a big difference. Many voters don’t realize how powerful and important the state senators are.

“Don’t agonize; organize. No whining; just winning.” Nancy Pelosi. Now let’s get it done!

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Dennis Crawford

I’m an aspiring historian, defender of democracy and a sports fan.