Collective investments in things like roads, schools, and parks are critical components of a thriving community. These things wouldn’t be possible without revenue to make these investments and that revenue comes from taxes. Many have seen or heard about the recent income tax cuts that Kansas has made, resulting in a much bigger revenue loss than they ever imagined or predicted. For the fiscal year 2014, Kansas collected $700 million less than the previous year, which was $330 million less than they had anticipated. Revenue numbers for the beginning of FY 2015 hint that the shortfall is permanent, and depleting reserve funds to keep up with the annual $6 billion in spending is not a viable method to sustain these tax cuts.
Nebraska has experienced one of the stronger economic recoveries in the country. Due to our consistently sound tax code, we have been able to maintain investments in communities and have a solid reserve fund in case of economic emergencies. Balancing income, sales, and property taxes is key to ensuring that we can invest in children and the state’s future.
If we invest in children’s education, we invest in the state’s overall economy. Access to high-quality education is key to children’s success in life. Children who succeed in school make happy and successful adults who contribute to the prosperity of the economy. Children need a supportive education system from the time before they enter preschool in order to reach the best possible outcome. Much of the funding for Nebraska’s schools comes from local property taxes.
Another way in which taxes invest in children is through the funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). According to Kids Count data for 2012, CHIP, together with Medicaid, covered a monthly average of 160,232 children. CHIP has been instrumental in creating a more equitable access to health care for children of color in Nebraska and children living in rural areas of Nebraska. Without CHIP, many children would not have access to essential health care that allows them to grow up to be healthy and successful adults.
We hope that as we enter into a new legislative season that new and returning policy makers will keep in mind the importance of taxes in investing in the health, education, and well-being of children now and for their futures, as well as the future of Nebraska.