LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts discussed Nebraska’s strength and growth in economic development and detailed his plans for the budget, proposals for tax relief, and his goal of expanding opportunities for the farm and ranch families in his annual State of the State address Jan. 15 at the Nebraska State Capitol.
“I am happy to report to you that the state of the state is strong and growing,” Ricketts said, after formally introducing and thanking the newest members of the Legislature.
Before discussing his plans for the budget and growth, Ricketts highlighted his administration’s achievements in 2018.
Ricketts said Nebraska’s unemployment rate was ranked sixth lowest in the country, and the state has received awards for the most economic development projects per capita of any state in the nation. But, it is important to remember that even as the state employs a record number of Nebraskans, agriculture and farm income has been cut by over 60 percent since 2013, he said.
As Ricketts continued to focus on the farm and ranch families and the importance of agriculture, he reminded lawmakers of their responsibility to the people they care for and the people who pay the bills, as they create proposals.
“As I work on this two-year budget, I had one thing in mind: the people of Nebraska,” Ricketts said.
Ricketts said state agencies continue to control spending growth with an average two-year operations increase of 2.3 percent. He said he has worked to keep the rate of growth at about 3 percent or less in all of his budgets.
According to Ricketts, the proposed budget would control spending, while still prioritizing new initiatives to help grow Nebraska, recognizing the dignity of human life and protecting public safety.
Ricketts said this budget would help grow the state in three ways: more Nebraskans could achieve higher paying jobs, the state government will become more effective, efficient and customer-focused, and new tax relief would be created.
“Property tax relief is the number one priority Nebraskans want as I travel the state,” he said.
Ricketts’ proposed budget and goals would provide $51 million in new, direct property tax relief to the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund each year, establish a statutory floor of $275 million for the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund and establish a 3 percent cap on property taxes levied by local governments.
“These proposals, together, will help deliver immediate relief and structural reform,” Ricketts said.
He said he is committed to working with the senators on additional property tax relief proposals.
Ricketts requested the lawmakers create proposals that help control spending, fit the budget and not raise taxes on one group of people, while lowering the taxes of another.
Ricketts finished his address by highlighting the goals of the budget and tax reform and reemphasizing the importance of putting the priorities of the taxpayers and the people of Nebraska first.
“I ask for your help in enacting this vision to grow Nebraska,” he said. “God bless you all and God bless the great state of Nebraska.”