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Archive for Friday, February 1, 1991

WHO CAN AFFORD TO PAY HUSKERS?

February 1, 1991

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If you've ever crossed our state's northern frontier, you've no doubt noticed a large green and white sign proclaiming: NEBRASKA. THE GOOD LIFE.

I'm sure life in Nebraska is good indeed, although I believe the Cornhusker State probably offered a better life back in the early 60s when it was one of the few states left without a sales tax.

I don't remember how the welcoming signs read back then, but they could have boasted: NEBRASKA. YOU WON'T NEED ANY PENNIES HERE.

Now, of course, Nebraskans, just like Kansans, have to dig for their pennies (and nickels) in order to pay a state sales tax. And, I'm sure, again like Kansans, folks north of our border hope for property tax relief, too.

Nebraskans obviously don't need an additional tax burden.

YET STATE Sen. Ernest Chambers, as he has for years, has introduced legislation in the Nebraska unicameral requiring the university to pay a stipend to its football players.

So far the people of Nebraska haven't had to foot the bill for payments for NU gridders, but you never know. Three years ago, as a matter of fact, the state unicameral approved Sen. Chambers' bill. It didn't become law, though, because then-Gov. Kay Orr vetoed it.

No one knows how the measure will fare this year, given the sagging economy and the Cornhuskers' sorry performance in the Florida Citrus Bowl, but anything is possible.

Actually, it seems likely a watered down version of Sen. Chambers' proposal will pass. Water logged might even be more descriptive of his latest controversial attempt to compensate Husker footballers.

The new bill would require the university to pay the players only after similar laws "are enacted by states in which are located at least four additional schools which are members of the Big Eight Conference."

Fat chance.

IN A BEST-CASE scenario, Kansas and Oklahoma could provide those four schools if its legislatures concurred on such legislation. But if Colorado, Iowa and Missouri lawmakers jumped on the bandwagon, Nebraska's gridders would still be out of luck because those states contain only one Big Eight school apiece.

Nevertheless, if Nebraskans are forced to supply the money to pay football players, creative financing will assuredly become a necessity. I'm no expert on money matters, but I do have some suggestions how the state might acquire additional revenue. Such as. . .

A Basketball Tax. Every man, woman and child would have to pay a dollar for every basketball game the Huskers win. This would encourage Nebraskans to stay away from NU basketball games and thus weaken potential support for paying Nebraska basketball players, too.

A Dog Tax. A $100 fee to license every dog in the state would also help make up for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost tax revenue caused by the precipitous greyhound-induced decline in the popularity of pari-mutuel horse racing in Nebraska.

An I-29 Tax. All Nebraskans spending a getaway weekend in Kansas City would be charged $1 apiece. Unfortunately, this might not generate the desired revenue because only about half the state's population goes to KC on weekends.

A Head Tax. Basically, this means everybody in Nebraska would have to cough up $1 a year for the right to breathe. I'd exempt everybody who lives in Wahoo, however. I can't tell you why. I just don't believe anyone who lives in a city with the name Wahoo should have to pay to take a breath.

Charge a $1 Admission to the NCAA Hearings. You don't think the NCAA will allow Nebraska to get away with paying its football players, do you?

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