PDF press release.

In response to a proposal to raise taxes to make up a perceived shortfall in funding for the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s new cancer research facility, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist today called on Omaha City Council to insist on the initial funding mechanism: $50 million from state government with private funding making up the balance.

The proposal before City Council, which would raise inheritance and tobacco taxes by $40 million, would put Omaha taxpayers on the hook for more than they bargained for. There is no reason the University of Nebraska can’t make up the “private funding” side of the equation, with a Foundation valued at $1.4 billion.

Norquist issued the following statement:

“Before a tax increase is even considered, Nebraskans deserve an honest answer as to why the University of Nebraska is unable to make good on their promise of some $200 million in private funding for the cancer center. But in a rush to plow more public funds into the project, it appears the powers that be are unwilling to provide that information.

“Now some seek to rush tax increases through Omaha City Council without questioning their impact on the local economy, or any transparency in how those funds are spent. These tax hikes are particularly unpredictable, and the last thing we need is an unstable revenue stream for a project that has already been improperly funded.

“I stand with Gov. Heineman and others who have questioned the need for local tax increases in Omaha, especially without a straightforward answer from the University of Nebraska about why their initial funding promises have not materialized.”