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CAPITOL VIEW: No praise for pair of senators from Gov. Heineman PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 09 June 2011 20:29

Understanding politics and policymaking often requires reading between the lines.

Take Gov. Dave Heineman’s farewell to the 2011 Legislature.

His Excellency generally congratulated lawmakers for successfully dealing with a revenue shortfall that once was estimated at up to $1 billion. Credit Heineman with guiding much of his budget and economic agenda through the session of 90 working days.

Between the lines …

Heineman gave no mention to Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine, a fellow Republican and possible candidate for the GOP nomination to the U.S. Senate. That omission fairly screamed between the lines.

Fischer was the prime mover behind a bill that committed state sales tax dollars to roads projects. We’re talking better than $65 million annually for 20 years. Heineman said, several times, that this was not the year for such a move. Fischer moved ahead. And she won.

Next came Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha. Rather, he was next to be omitted. He was a prime mover in the negotiations that led to revisions in the way the Commission on Industrial Relations handles disputes between unionized public employees, local government and state government.

Lathrop is a Democrat, which is automatically strike one. Heineman was frustrated and annoyed with the way Lathrop initially handled the negotiations.

Heineman commented on the CIR revisions, but he gave Lathrop not so much as a mention.


Tax breaks for Big Oil

U.S. Senators Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns voted against a proposal that would have eliminated tens of billions of dollars in federal tax subsidies for the oil industry.

Democrat Nelson and Republican Johanns have long understood the energy industry’s point of view when it comes to taxes.

Despite history-making profits, both Nebraskans believe the nation’s best interest is served by encouraging the industry, via tax incentives, to produce more oil and gasoline and to create more jobs.

A majority of their Senate colleagues agreed with them. Nelson was among only three Democrats who voted to maintain the subsidies. The other two were from oil producing states.


Different worlds

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie drew criticism recently when he had a state helicopter to chauffeur him to his son’s baseball game. There was a car waiting on the ground to take him the next 100 yards to the field.

Christie watched some five innings, was chauffeured back to the helicopter, which then chauffeured him to what he and everyone acknowledged was a purely partisan political gathering.

Can you imagine a Nebraska governor doing that, or anything like that?

Nor can I.

And if anyone on a governor’s staff suggested such a thing, they would immediately be recognized as an agent provocateur for the other side and sent packing.


ED HOWARD is the statehouse correspondent for the Nebraska Press Association.