The arrival of 2020, only a few days away, provides an occasion to turn our thoughts toward the opportunities and challenges of the new year. Let’s consider some of the central considerations ahead and offer positive wishes for the New Year — above all, in regard to flood risks facing the Midlands.
» Flood challenge: A strong wish for needed good fortune on the flood front — a wish that flooding, if and where it occurs, will be well short of the scale of the 2019 catastrophes. And that where it does strike, preparations help reduce the damage and Midlanders once again come together to alleviate suffering.
» Agricultural producers: A long-overdue turnaround on the export front, buoyed by a return of major purchases by China and increases in commodity prices. Plus, increased beef sales to Japan now that the U.S. has essentially the same tariff levels as our export competitors.
» Gov. Pete Ricketts and his administration: Much-needed progress to move the state prison system out of its current crisis. Plus, efforts that stabilize the state’s facilities for juvenile offenders in the wake of the tumult this year at the center in Geneva for female youths. All these efforts need to be done through consultation and coordination with the Legislature, with appropriate legislation as needed. A successful transition in child welfare services in the Omaha area.
» Nebraska Legislature: Practical agreement, during the 60-day “short” session, that fulfills two vital goals: achievement of property tax relief and enactment of a new business incentives law, since the current one expires at the end of 2020. Avoidance of a stalemate over the school funding formula. Agreement on a constructive redistricting approach for the 2021 session.
» University of Nebraska: A positive first year for the new NU president, Ted Carter, in building relationships across the state and advocating for this vital Nebraska institution. Progress in supporting students of all backgrounds and boosting the graduation rate. Advancements in strengthening NU’s contributions to Nebraska workforce development.
» Omaha: An affordable long-term recycling contract. A successful launch of the Omaha Rapid Bus Transit service. Continued strengthening on the police/public safety front. Progress in extending economic opportunity to all parts of our city. Moving ahead on multiyear work to provide a transformed riverfront.
» Local school districts: Gains in meeting the educational needs of an increasingly diverse Nebraska population and the ever-higher skill demands of the modern workplace. For Omaha Public Schools, progress in managing pension-related costs, and success in moving ahead with approved bond projects.
» Nebraska: A stable economy, with a much-needed rebound in the agricultural sector. Gains in workforce development. Coordination among Nebraskans in moving forward with the Blueprint Nebraska initiative for economic development and community progress.
» 2020 Nebraska elections: Election competition at the state and local levels marked by worthwhile discussion and debate that inform Nebraskans, rather than low-road political tactics that insult voters’ intelligence.
A new year can mean new beginnings. Let’s all make the most of it.