Published Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 4:27 pm
Nebraska tax reform
World-Herald editorial: Measure tax incentives

Practical arguments can be made for using incentives to recruit and retain businesses. That’s why Nebraska adopted LB 755, the Employment and Investment Growth Act, in 1987 and approved its successor law, the Nebraska Advantage Act, in 2005.

A new report from the Legislative Performance Audit Committee points to a major shortcoming in Nebraska’s approach: The state has inadequate mechanisms in place to measure how the benefits from economic incentives compare with the costs.

That’s a disservice to Nebraska taxpayers. State Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff, who chairs the committee that issued the new report, is right when he says, “We need measurable benchmarks so we can say to the public and taxpayers, yes, it is worth the dollars we’re spending.”

Harms’ committee looked at the incentives policies of nine states, including all those that border Nebraska. It found that six of the nine have formal evaluation processes for measuring the effectiveness of their business incentives.

From 2006 through 2012, the Nebraska Advantage Act provided $130 million in tax credits and refunds to companies that created 7,100 full-time equivalent jobs and invested $3.5 billion. That translated into about $18,300 in tax breaks per job.

A state commission is now studying Nebraska’s overall tax policy and will make recommendations for the 2014 legislative session. The commission’s tax reform package should include some type of evaluation process for business incentives.

Economic incentives make sense for Nebraska, but so does having a way to judge whether they justify the cost in the specific instances.

8% of alcohol sellers checked in Omaha area last week sold booze to minors
OPS bus, SUV collide; no students onboard at the time
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
2 blocks of Grover Street closed
Safety board report blames pilot error in 2013 crash that killed UNO student, passenger
Omaha man accused in shooting ordered held on $75,000 bail
2 men charged with conspiracy to distribute meth held on $1 million bail each
La Vista plans meeting on sales tax proposal, 84th Street redevelopment
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
< >
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »