A Blueprint Mystery
In recent weeks, much attention has turned to a tax plan proposed by Blueprint Nebraska. Although the plan advertises potential property tax and income tax relief, the plan relies heavily on a dramatic shift to sales taxes. It is estimated that reductions in income tax would benefit corporate interests and the wealthy while the sales tax increase would fall heavily on middle- and low-income Nebraskans. There is also a concern about the funding of schools.
A serious question is where and how did such a tax plan come into existence? When legislation that benefits corporate interests and the wealthy comes into play, many legislators look to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as the source. ALEC is famous for inviting legislators from all over the country to meet with corporate CEOs at attractive resorts to gather this type of model legislation. Although Blueprint makes no mention of ALEC in its comprehensive plan, one does have to wonder if the plan has any roots in ALEC.
Former University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds is credited with bringing the Blueprint idea from Mississippi to Nebraska, but it is former State Senator Jim Smith who has been the driving force behind the plan. While in the legislature Smith was the state chair of ALEC. The organization’s membership has always been a secret, but Smith once claimed that half of our state legislators were dues paying members.
When Jim Smith resigned from the Nebraska Legislature in July of 2018, he became the first Executive Director of Nebraska Blueprint. At the same time Smith became a member of ALEC’s Private Enterprise Advisory Council.
Senator Lou Ann Linehan is the current State Chair of ALEC and an outspoken supporter of the Blueprint tax plan. Both Smith and Linehan are popular advocates at the Platte Institute as well as many public forums.
Union Pacific is a “Trustee” level sponsor of ALEC. The CEO of the huge railroad conglomerate based in Omaha is Lantz Fritz, Co-Chair of Blueprint Nebraska.
In a number of emails from April 30 to July 16, 2020 between Governor Ricketts’ staff, Jim Smith, and ALEC, arrangements were made to have Governor Ricketts be the featured speaker at ALEC’s 47th Annual Meeting at the Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida. At that event, Governor Ricketts was recognized as the nation’s top governor. Afterward, these emails followed arranging a golf outing at the Sandhills Golf Course.
Select Emails BelowBlueprint Emails
There may be roots here, but that is for the public to decide.