BROKEN BOW–Governor Pete Ricketts stopped in Broken Bow during his State of the State fly around on Thursday afternoon and spoke to a crowd of more than 50 people (click here to see his State of the State address).
He described 2019 as a tough year in Nebraska–especially in agriculture with low commodity prices, trade uncertainty, and flooding–but said 2019 was also “Nebraska’s finest hour.”
“With that flooding that we saw last year 2019 will be known–despite all the challenges–as Nebraska’s finest hour because of the way that Nebraskans stepped up all across the state to rescue their neighbors, to deliver hay and supplies, hot meals, raise money for people who have lost everything. It really truly showed what it means to be Nebraska Strong,” Governor Ricketts said.
The first part of the presentation outlined the Governor’s top four priorities for Nebraska during the next year which included property tax relief, flood relief, retaining veterans, and developing the people of Nebraska through workforce and business expansion.
Despite challenges, the governor said Nebraska has continued to grow with faster GDP growth, job growth, and received its third consecutive Governor’s Cup recognizing economic development projects.
Governor’s Ricketts’ top priority of addressing the property tax concerns includes adding $500 million in property tax relief over the next three years and three principles of no tax increases, protecting the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund, and encouraging spending restraint in local governments.
Flood relief was the second priority outlined by Governor Ricketts in which he recommends $50 million to address the state’s share of the $400 million in disaster projects, $9.2 million to aid the counties most severely impacted by the disaster (84 total counties impacted), and $3 million to maintain an adequate balance in the Governor’s Emergency Fund to prepare for any future events.
LB 153 proposes to exempt 50 percent of military retirement benefits from income tax and is part of the governor’s third priority of retaining Nebraska’s veterans.
“It’s a step in the right direction to be more competitive with those states and to tell our veterans we want them to come back here and continue to be part of our community,” Governor Ricketts said.
The bill passed the first round of debate on Monday with a vote of 46-0 and will have two more rounds to go.
The fourth priority is developing people through scholarship programs targeted at high demand fields such as technology, manufacturing, engineering, math, and health care.
Governor Ricketts added that spending needs to be controlled in order to add to property tax relief.
“Aside from the property tax relief plan, we’re keeping spending at 2.9%. So we’re continuing to control our spending at the state and again that’s key because the only way you can have sustainable tax relief is by controlling spending. So all the control of spending we’ve been doing is what is allowing us–now that we have increased revenues–to put those revenues into a $500 million property tax relief plan,” Governor Ricketts said.
Stay tuned next week for more information about the governor’s visit to Broken Bow.