brain drain art

Actions speak louder than words. 

It’s cliche, but it has been proven time and time again — especially in the world of politics. Promises are made and broken on a whim, even when those promises have decades-long implications. These empty words are combatted constantly, but perhaps most effectively through political action: policy.  

New legislation to combat Nebraska’s brain drain is the first significant action after years of mere talk. If Nebraska’s power players truly care about its young people, they must encourage this legislation to fruition.

Nebraska’s brain drain is an issue that has circulated the state for a while. Noticed by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as early as 2008, the problem is lingering. Media sources — including The Daily Nebraskan in 2013 — have drawn concern to the issue for years. Young Nebraskans with an advanced education are simply leaving “the good life” behind. 

LB69, introduced by Sen. Jen Day of Gretna, seeks to combat that exact issue. Day’s bill recognizes the strain young Nebraskans feel amid a rising tide of student loans and offers a potential solution. The bill offers employers a tax break if they aid former students in paying their student loans. Additionally, 25% of the bill’s credits will be reserved for small businesses.

This is a great step in the right direction for the Nebraska legislature. It’s reassuring that legislators are willing to look beyond the immediate issues of our world — as pressing and important as they are — to remind us that there will be a future to return to after COVID-19.

Day’s bill would not just be a win for the future, but also a win for self-awareness. Nebraska is not an exceptionally kind state for educated youngsters to thrive in. It’s a rural area with limited high-paying jobs outside of a few limited urban communities. Legislators typically play up Nebraska as a rural-centered state, and that’s alright. That sentiment appeals to a wide section of Nebraskans. But LB69 highlights the dynamic nature of the state and places Nebraska on a pedestal of variety. Not all Nebraskans are the same, and we should embrace that.

Of course, one bill doesn’t solve an entire generational problem. As a doubtful young Nebraskan myself, there’s a lot more than student debt making my dreams wander elsewhere. As powerful as LB69 might be for finally addressing the issue of the statewide brain drain, it does not erase the issue or even put a solid dent in it.

That’s perfectly okay. LB69 does not have to be a miracle bill, because that’s not its greatest selling point. Above all, the impact of this bill isn’t just the physical bill itself, but the concern and compassion that lies beneath it.

Young Nebraskans want to feel wanted. They want to be cared for and appreciated by the state that raised them. LB69 is not just a piece of paper mottled with words. It is the action of finally recognizing the simple fact that young, talented Nebraskans are needed for this state to thrive.

LB69 is a moderate, well-meaning step in the right direction that acknowledges the struggles of young Nebraskans and the value of their livelihoods as state citizens. When the Nebraska State Revenue Committee decides to act upon the bill, it should do the right thing.

The committee must allow Nebraska brain drain to be fought with accredited action instead of the whimsy of empty words. 

Emma Krab is a sophomore English and journalism major. Reach her at emmakrab@dailynebraskan.com.