Dear Lincoln Chamber Member,
Today at 1:30 p.m., Senators will begin debate on LB397, a bill that makes changes to the procedures of the Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR). The CIR is a non-elected, state body that currently makes decisions on the wages and benefits of state and local public employees in Nebraska. As with many other states, the negotiated compensation packages of public employees are forcing lawmakers to reevaluate the rules for the negotiations. For several years, the Lincoln Chamber, concerned taxpayers and others expressed concerns over the negative fiscal impacts and sustainability of the current system.
The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry have worked together toward a positive and productive solution to this issue. In fact, our chambers believe significant and meaningful reform is necessary to make Nebraska competitive for future growth.
We will measure CIR reform proposals against the following four primary outcomes:
1. Comprehensive - all facets of government should be covered under a uniform set of rules
2. Cost savings and/or cost containment for every facet of government
3. Allow elected officials to properly manage budgets and operations they were elected to manage
4. Transparent - the public deserves a process that is transparent and accountable
After spending a considerable amount of time reviewing the legislation, it is clear that the Business and Labor Committee version of LB397, and amendments that maintain the basic structure, fall short when analyzed against our established four desired outcomes. We acknowledge some positive aspects but it remains clear that this version of reform maintains the CIR status quo for the most part and even adds complexity and costs.
We remain committed to giving elected officials control of their budgets through meaningful CIR reform. We've offered specific ideas that adhere to our principles and will stay engaged in the debate.
We support amendment AM 1379 offered by Lincoln Senator Tony Fulton. We urge you to contact Senators to ask them to support the Fulton amendment, AM 1379, for meaningful CIR reform.
Bruce J. Bohrer
Executive V.P. & General Counsel