Would tax reform solve Nebraska’s brain drain problem?

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) – The problem of young people leaving Nebraska at a faster rate than they arrive here, known as the “brain drain,” is one that state leaders have been trying to address for some time. time.

As this is an election year, gubernatorial candidates have come up with their own solutions to this problem.

On Wednesday, we heard from three gubernatorial candidates at a forum sponsored by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, where two of the candidates — Brett Lindstrom and Theresa Thibodeau — said they thought lowering taxes was the first step to solving the problem of young people leaving the state.

The issue of brain drain in Nebraska is complex and offers no easy solutions. Many of the gubernatorial candidates seem to believe there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but some Republicans are centering their solutions on tax reform.

“Keeping our young people here. Yes, it starts with tax reform,” said Thérèse Thibodeau.

Candidate Brett Lindstrom points to other states.

“Right now they’re not looking at Nebraska, they’re looking at a place like South Dakota or Wyoming that has a 0% income tax rate. So we have to do these things to nurture, recruit and get talent.

The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce believes that tax policy is a way for Nebraska to close the brain drain gap.

“The young workforce is quite sophisticated, having a high tax rate – in fact, higher than any other state in some cases in our region – does not make us very attractive to young people,” said the Speaker of the House Bryan Slone.

On Thursday, they applauded the legislature for lowering corporate and personal tax rates.

Slone says there’s still work to be done, especially in the tech sector. He cites states like Utah with low taxes and a booming tech economy.

“We’re going to have to grow our tech sector and that sector tends to move to low-tax states,” Slone said.

Jeff Slobotski works with Omaha-based tech companies daily, helping to run Millwork Commons, which provides companies with a collaborative neighborhood to work in.

One of the solutions he brings is a collaborative approach, which he says is not really happening right now.

“We’re all sort of pocketed, heads down, siloed all over town, all over the community; this stuff can’t happen,” Slobotski said.

He says business, government and post-secondary education can all come together to show the vast opportunities that exist in Omaha. Many tech companies can’t fill jobs fast enough, and many open jobs don’t require deep tech or coding knowledge.

“Writing code is big, high-paying jobs, but there’s so much more to tech companies than the cogs on the coding side,” Slobotski said.

Slobotski and Slone agree that the state needs to market itself better and that we have successful companies like Flywheel and Buildertrend to tell their stories.

“Shout those from the roof, if you will,” Slobotski said.

Slone adds that because the solution is not one-size-fits-all, the state must be broad, allowing differing opinions and backgrounds to operate within the same state.

“There is a real opportunity here. I can’t think of a state that has more opportunity and we actually have a lot of diversity, we just need to grow and celebrate it more,” Slone said.

Slobotski said lawmakers need to be intentional when creating laws to ensure they send the right message to young professionals.

“Some of the policies that we adopt or don’t adopt at the state level, at the city level, I think they really send a message about the type of city and the state that we say we are,” a- he declared.

A gubernatorial candidate, State Senator Carol Blood, a Democrat, thinks the brain drain could be solved with better jobs and inclusive communities.

“Nebraska needs to raise the minimum wage, work on universal child care, build affordable housing, value diversity, and engage all Nebraskas in the decisions that affect their lives,” Blood said.

A fairly recent survey by The Neighbor showed that the main reasons young people move are a lower cost of living, closer ties to family, increased work flexibility and simply looking for another opportunity.

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