Two large state government agencies would be combined into one under a plan being considered by state leaders. The proposal would merge the departments of Labor and Economic Development.
Dennis Byars, a Gage County Board member and a former state lawmaker, opposes the idea.
“We don’t want more big government,” Byars says. “We’re trying to consolidate but if you take away the emphasis on economic development, I don’t think it’s good.”
Byars is against merging the 500-employee state labor department with another 100 workers in the D-E-D, fearing economic development efforts would get lost.
“I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” Byars says. “This isn’t a place to save money. Economic Development in our state is where we make money for our businesses and for all the people in this state and I don’t think it should be combined with another department.”
Governor Dave Heineman recently named Catherine Lang, the Nebraska Labor Commissioner, to head both departments. Governor Heineman says he plans to propose legislation this coming session to combine the two departments.
He says Lang understands the correlation between an educated workforce and job creation, adding, it’s the right time to combine the two agencies.
Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice