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Gubernatorial candidate McCoy heads west to talk politics
January 09, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Beau McCoy stopped in Scottsbluff Friday as part of a campaign swing through western Nebraska.

State Senator Beau McCoy was in Scottsbluff Friday to meet with the public and talk about some of the issues the state will face in the future.

McCoy, now in his sixth year as a state senator, is running for governor on the Republican ticket.

McCoy said one of the huge issues facing the state is the “brain drain,” the exodus of almost 20,000 young people leaving the state each year — many never return.

“It’s a serious problem that we’ll feel even more acutely as more Baby Boomers retire,” he said. “I was at a manufacturing plant in Ainsworth recently. They have about 70 employees and none of them are under 50. They’ve also had about 15-20 job openings for more than a year and can’t find people to hire.”

McCoy, a community college graduate, now owns a construction company. He also sees more opportunities for online businesses in the future, even in small rural communities.

“We need our young people here to replace our aging workforce,” he said. “We need to get to the kids at a younger age and talk with them about all the great jobs there are here. They don’t have to move to Denver or Omaha or Lincoln.”

He added the jobs are available for people with the skills required to perform them. That’s where the community colleges come in to train tomorrow’s workforce. He said he plans to introduce legislation to identify where job shortages lie, then offer assistance to community colleges to train people in those areas.

McCoy was a member of the Tax Modernization Committee that scheduled public hearings across the state last fall to gather input on the state’s tax system. Overwhelmingly, people were most concerned about property taxes.

“How we calculate property tax today is a huge problem for the long-term economic viability of the state,” he said. “We pay far too many property taxes, and not just residential.”

He recommended in the short term to address the problem, the state needs to reduce ag land valuation from 75 to 65 percent of value. He said that would help offset recent valuation increases that escalated much faster than anticipated.

Another short term solution he offered was to significantly increase funding the property tax relief fund. “We’ve already put $115 million every two years into that fund, but we should have at least sufficient funds to get it to $200 million. There’s no excuse for us to have the 13th highest property taxes in the country.”

The argument can be made that without real cuts in the state budget, any increase in property tax relief would have to be offset in other areas.

“That’s why I was one of three senators to vote no on the mainline budget last year,” McCoy said. “I don’t think we can continue to grow state government at five percent year after year. That’s not sustainable and I think we can operate government on less while still prioritizing education funding.”

He added the state needs to adopt a more sustainable level of growth, which gives the opportunity to lower taxes. Those tax savings brings additional revenue to the state as people reinvest in their own businesses and local economies.
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