A New Year’s Resolution for Nebraska

A Legislative report on options to reduce state spending targets rural Nebraska for disproportionate cuts. It suggests eliminating Nebraska’s three most significant rural development programs.
•    The Agricultural Opportunities and Value-Added Partnership Act makes grants to farmers and ranchers for value added enterprises;
•    The Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act makes matching grants for rural community development,  and
•    The Microenterprise Development Program funds loans, training, business planning and marketing assistance to businesses with up to five employees, helping create thousands of Nebraska businesses and jobs.  

In hard times, we must tighten our belts.  But sacrifice must be fairly shared.  These rural programs have already been cut by half to help balance the budget, while funding in most areas has grown.  To now offer them up for elimination, is tantamount to giving up on rural Nebraska.  

The cut in microenterprise development is especially short sighted, because it’s critical to pulling our economy out of this recession.  During the 2000 - 2003 recession, microenterprise employment grew in Nebraska by 5 percent, even as jobs were being cut by larger businesses.  Microenterprise is critical to pulling our state out of recession.   

Eliminating these critical investments in rural Nebraska economy is like feeding our seed corn.  It saves in the short term, but leaves nothing to plant for the future.  The budget cutting options report is a shot across our bow.  Each of us who values rural Nebraska must respond by urging our senators and the governor to invest in our future.

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