Thomas C. Sorensen Seminar: Rural and Urban Tax Policy


Taxes on income, sales, and property are the primary sources of government revenue. Though a general source of income, the reliance on different taxes, as well as rates and bases, vary widely across jurisdictions. This seminar and its participants explored the complexity of tax policy in state and local governments. Participants used evaluation criteria such as equity, efficiency, adequacy, and transparency to review the advantages of major taxes. In order to better understand how tax structures develop, the discussion also included an analysis of the political dynamics and competing values inherent in designing tax policy. Implications of current trends, such as e-commerce, tax limitations, and increasing diversification of tax sources were considered.

Seminar Leaders
John Bartle is an associate professor of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, director of the M.P.A. Program, and director of the Local Government Program. He has an M.P.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in public policy and management from the Ohio State University. His teaching and research areas are public finance, public budgeting, and policy analysis. He was the recipient of the UNO Alumni Teaching Award in 2000. He has published articles in a range of academic journals and is also the author of a forthcoming book on public budgeting.

Carol Ebdon is an assistant professor of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s College of Public Affairs and Community Service, and a faculty associate with the Local Government Program in the Department of Public Administration. She received an M.P.A from the University of Toledo and a Ph.D. in public administration from the State University of New York at Albany. Her research interests are in the area of state and local budgeting and finance. She is currently studying the effects of tax and expenditure limits in Nebraska, local government revenue diversification, and the use of citizen participation in budget processes.

Mary Jane Egr has served as the Nebraska State tax commissioner since 1999. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Egr was a principal in the State Tax Consulting practice for PriceWaterhouse Coopers LLP. She was also the national coordinator for state and local taxes with Grant Thornton LLP. She has served as senior attorney with the Federation of Tax Administrators in Washington, D.C., as assistant counsel to the Multistate Tax Commission, and as a staff attorney with the Nebraska Department of Revenue. Ms. Egr is a co-author of a BNA Multistate Tax Portfolio and has authored numerous articles for State Tax Notes, Multistate Tax Report, and many other publications. Ms. Egr received both her B.A. and J.D. from Creighton University.

William R. “Bob” Wickersham is the Nebraska state senator for District #49, which encompasses the northwestern-most corner of Nebraska. He was first appointed by Governor Ben Nelson in 1991 and was reelected in 1992, 1996, and again in 2000. Senator Wickersham serves as chair of the Committee on Revenue and was the 1997 Nebraska Rural Development Commission Champion of Rural Nebraska. He is the vice president of Sioux County Agricultural Society and is on the board of directors of The School at the Center, Inc. Senator Wickersham has a B.A. and B.S. from Creighton University and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska School of Law.