On Wednesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released their breakdown of economic growth by state in the U.S. While the nation as a whole is experiencing economic growth, slipping prices in key farm commodities have meant several Midwest economies are shrinking instead.
Among all the stagnating ag states, Nebraska is suffering the most. Posting a growth rate of negative 4 percent, the Nebraska economy is shrinking faster than any state in the country, followed closely by Iowa with negative 3.8 percent.
While the agricultural malaise is a natural phase of the market, there are some things Nebraska state senators can do to encourage economic recovery and improve the state’s competitiveness long-term.
The neighbors Nebraska competes most tightly with, like Iowa and Kansas, are also stalling economically, so improving Nebraska’s business environment by cutting red tape will encourage businesspeople to choose Nebraska over our neighbors.
In a recent survey of regulations on business in all 50 states, the Pacific Research Institute ranked Nebraska 25th most complicated for filings for start-ups. That means Nebraska ranks behind 24 other states, including both Iowa and South Dakota, in how big a stack of paperwork we hit start-up entrepreneurs with.
In the other regulatory rankings, Nebraska hovers around 14th or 15th place, with neighbors like Wyoming, Kansas, and Missouri often beating us in areas like land use, labor, and energy regulations. These burdens on businesses slow recovery and make us less competitive in the long run.
The governor’s current initiative to review the state’s rulemaking process and reform the way it regulates businesses will go a long way in relieving regulatory burden and attracting interstate investment, but Nebraska’s hundreds of occupational licensing laws continue to hurt native entrepreneurs.
By keeping people from using the skills they have to provide for themselves, unnecessary occupational licenses can restrict upward mobility and prohibit wealth creation. Sen. Laura Ebke’s Legislative Bill 299 would create a committee to systematically review and make recommendations for reforming such occupational licensing laws.
With certain key reforms in the way the state treats workers and businesspeople, Nebraska could create an environment of wealth creation that will go beyond pulling us out of the current slump, setting the state up for higher long-run growth, new job creation, and rising incomes for everyone.
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