Center for State Fiscal Reform Hosts Midwest Tax and Fiscal Policy Academy

The ALEC Center for State Fiscal Reform recently hosted a successful Midwest Tax and Fiscal Policy Academy, with Nebraska legislative hosts Senator Jim Smith and Senator Lou Ann Linehan. The event took place June 18-20 in Omaha, Nebraska, with 23 bipartisan legislative attendees representing 8 Midwestern states. The purpose of the Academy was to provide nonpartisan policy training and a forum for legislators to discuss detailed policy solutions regarding pension reform, tax reform, and priority-based budgeting.

Academy presentation topics included economic competitiveness among the states, best practices for pension reform, priority-based budgeting and overcoming obstacles to tax reform. Legislators participated in discussions where they illustrated the fiscal condition of their respective states and were then able to share thoughts with each other in an effort to determine best practices. Attendees also learned the real story of the Kansas tax reform efforts, and how tax policy directly affects the movement of people and capital across the U.S. states.

In addition to policy sessions, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts addressed attendees at the Omaha Press Club. Governor Ricketts shared his philosophy regarding tax and fiscal policy, which has helped Nebraska increase its economic outlook ranking over the past several years in Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from Willy Theisen, founder of Godfather’s Pizza.

Since the conclusion of the Academy, several of our attendees have reached out with positive feedback.

“Because I currently serve on a standing tax committee during regular session, I really enjoyed the Academy. Speakers gave such a good overview of what other states have tried, some stumbling blocks, and some successes. I also gathered ideas from the pension reform session and how serious long-term unfunded liabilities cloud a state’s future.”

-North Dakota Representative Vicky Steiner

ALEC Board Member South Carolina Representative Alan Clemmons also joined us.

“I was honored to participate recently in one of ALEC’s regional academies. I was very impressed with the quality of the presenters, who made every session directly applicable to the largest fiscal issues shared by the participating states. Whether it be a looming pension crisis, income tax reform or attracting commerce to our states, there were cogent takeaways for every legislator.”

ALEC Academies give attendees the opportunity to share ideas and network in an environment conducive to a deep-dive into particular issue areas. We are excited to see an increase in interstate collaboration following these events, and given the success of our first three regional academies, we plan to continue them in our effort to bring together legislators serving in close proximity.