Gov. Pete Ricketts revealed his budgetary and legislative priorities for Nebraska during his State of the State address Jan. 15. The governor highlighted proposals to provide property tax relief and flood recovery.
“A strong finish to the last fiscal year helped us rebuild our cash reserve and has created the opportunity for us to work on key priorities for the people of Nebraska,” he said.
Ricketts said the state’s economic forecasting board has raised its revenue projection by $266 million for the next two fiscal years, money that he’d like to see go toward his top priority—property tax relief. The governor proposed $500 million in property tax relief over the next three years, adding that he would not support increases in other taxes to offset the reduction in revenue.
Many areas of the state are still recovering from last spring’s flooding, Ricketts said, and the federal government will pay for the majority of recovery efforts. Ricketts, though, would like Nebraska to contribute $50 million toward those efforts, provide an additional $9.2 million to the most devastated counties and increase the Governor’s Emergency Fund by $3 million.
Ricketts lauded the advancement of LB153 which would reduce income taxes for veterans. He said more needs to be done to encourage veterans to stay in Nebraska.
“Veterans continue to contribute to our communities and our economy after they complete their service,” Ricketts said. “Nebraska is the only state in our region whose veterans’ population is declining in part because we tax retirement benefits.”
The governor’s final priorities were expanding the state’s workforce and passing LB720, which would revise Nebraska’s business incentives. He proposed $16 million in scholarships for students attending community and four-year colleges, and $8 million to attract and retain corrections officers.
“Connecting the next generation of Nebraskans to great opportunities in our state is key to helping our kids make Nebraska their home,” Ricketts said.