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February 13, 2011

7

New LJS columnist would rather “say it plain”

by Deena Winter

Another good column today from the Journal Star’s new statehouse reporter, Kevin O’Hanlon. He wrote about how the governor’s office didn’t like it when he wrote about the state’s nearly $1 billion “budget gap.”

Now, there’s nothing odd about him describing the chasm between spending and revenue as a “gap.” But apparently, the governor’s office doesn’t like the sound of the word. He got an email from Gov. Dave Heineman’s “communications director” (spokeswoman, PR person) saying they prefer to call it a “projected budget shortfall based off of the Legislature’s fiscal projection.”

O’Hanlon went on to eviscerate their argument. Clearly, this is a typical attempt by a politician’s spin doctor to get the reporter to use meaningless phrases that do nothing but confuse readers. Their preferred phrase kind of implies the Legislature is to blame for this thing.

Would you be more likely to understand what O’Hanlon means by “budget gap” or “projected budget shortfall based off of the Legislature’s fiscal projection”? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I think even “budget gap” can be confusing, but reporters nationwide use that and other words like shortfall and deficit to describe a situation where the government isn’t taking in enough as much money as it needs to pay for current spending.

Looks like the LJS hired a columnist who isn’t afraid to cut through that kind of “excrement emanating from the male of a bovine animal” — and say it plain.

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Joe's Bro
    Feb 13 2011

    Call it a budget deficit. Call it budget gap. Call it a projected budget shortfall, call it red ink.

    I call it “Fiscal Mismanagement.”

    But do not call it: “Time for homeowners to pay more property taxes to make up for whatever you call the it.”

    When the dust settles, it will be time for non-profits in the city, county and state to start paying their fair share for police, fire, use of streets, licensing and other taxes.

    You can call it an “occupation fee”, you can call it an “occupation tax”, (which is what I was charged on my food bill last night at a restaurant, after the sales tax) you can call it “property tax”, “ownership fee,” Just call it.

    All the homeowners want in Lincoln is that you do not call them first when the Feds and State quit sending money.

    Reply
  2. Bickerstaff
    Feb 13 2011

    The AP;s loss was the Journal-Star’s gain in a big way.

    Reply
  3. Roger Yant
    Feb 13 2011

    Way to use our language, Gap is a much better word. Joe’s Bro you said it all. By the way, in 1986 we had a state budget of around $800 million with a total of 1.7 million people in the state. Now our budget is ?? in the $4 billion to $6 billion range, and funny thing is we still have 1.7 million people in the state. Does any one see something fishy here?

    Reply
  4. CJ
    Feb 13 2011

    Deena has hit the nail on the head: O’Hanlon has does a lot to improve the LJS’s legislative coverage. It was apparent from Day 1 of his employment with them. Congrats to the LJS on a great hire!

    Reply
  5. Deb K.
    Feb 13 2011

    I like gap….however, is he the next one that LJS will let go????? I’ve heard Heineman doesn’t take hostages….

    Reply
  6. Plug the Gap With the Tax Giveaways
    Feb 14 2011

    Way to go Kevin but watch out at the hard-boiled journalist-unfriendly LJS.

    Years ago the state began to give retail tax rebates, equipment purchase kickbacks and various tax shelters to Businesses that operated in Nebraska. A few businesses resisted on principle. Many others lined up at the corporate welfare trough to the tune of about a Billion Nebraska dollars – the size of the current budget gap. The givebacks / tax holiday terms last for fifteen years per agreement . . . . . can’t be precise because the agreements are Secret.
    Now other states in budget crisis mode are going back to their businesses and asking for a voluntary year off or temporary decrease in the generous handouts. Funny how this is not on the table with the Legislature or goes unmentioned by Guv .

    Reply
  7. Plug the Gap With the Tax Giveaways
    Feb 14 2011

    Way to go Kevin but watch out at the hard-boiled journalist-unfriendly LJS.

    Years ago the state began to give retail tax rebates, equipment purchase kickbacks and various tax shelters to Businesses that operated in Nebraska. A few businesses resisted on principle. Many others lined up at the corporate welfare trough to the tune of about a Billion Nebraska dollars – the size of the current budget gap. The givebacks / tax holiday terms last for fifteen years per agreement . . . . . can’t be precise because the agreements are Secret.
    Now other states in budget crisis mode are going back to their businesses and asking for a voluntary year off or temporary decrease in the generous handouts. Funny how this is not on the table with the Legislature or goes unmentioned by Guv .
    What happened to the concept that we are all in this together? Where is the coprporate fair-share effort?

    Reply

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