A historic session | Office of Governor Pete Ricketts
A historic session
By Governor Pete Ricketts
June 1, 2021
official governor’s photo here.
Last week, the Legislature concluded one of its most productive sessions in history. With nearly 700 bills under consideration, Senators and I have worked together successfully to control spending growth, provide tax breaks, invest in broadband infrastructure, and expand educational opportunities among many others. key priorities. Here are some of the highlights of a historic legislative session that helped move our state forward on the Nebraska path.
Control spending: The next two-year budget that senators and I agreed to limit spending growth to 2.4%. The four biennial budgets that I have worked on with the Legislature have an average annual growth rate of less than 2.5%. Through efforts to control government spending, we have provided over $ 1.8 billion in tax relief to Nebraskans over the next two years. It is the largest tax break a legislature has granted in at least a quarter of a century and possibly the largest amount in the history of the state of Nebraska. This represents on average 18.5% of the state budget earmarked for tax relief over the next two years.
Land tax relief: The property tax relief made up the vast majority of relief this session. Together, the Legislature and I have provided property tax relief estimated at $ 1.7 billion over the next two years. This includes more than $ 433 million each year thanks to the new refundable tax credit, which was enacted in 2020. This is more than triple the $ 125 million in tax credits granted this year, which was the first. year of the program. We have also increased the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund as well as the funding for the exemption on family properties.
And more tax breaks: In addition to the property tax relief, senators and I have agreed on five other important measures. We have eliminated taxes on military retirement income and granted a tax exemption of 50% of social security income which will be phased in. Senators also passed a law to reduce the corporate income tax rate to equalize tax rates on different types of job creators. A new “tax truth” law will now require local governments to notify taxpayers whenever their property tax claims are expected to increase by more than 2%. And finally, farmland appraisals will be reduced from 75% of market value to 50% of market value for property tax purposes for bond issues. This will reduce the tax burden on farmers and ranchers.
Broadband infrastructure: The legislature approved the Broadband Bridge Act, which was introduced at my request. This will invest $ 20 million in matching grants each year to expand broadband access to 30,000 homes in Nebraska over the next two years. This improved connectivity will help more Nebraskans have the ability to work remotely, do their homework, and access telehealth and e-commerce.
Expanded educational possibilities: This session, senators and I expanded educational opportunities for the next generation of Nebraskans. We have agreed to invest over $ 1 billion a year in state aid to K-12 schools. On my recommendation, the legislature has cut red tape to make it faster and easier for spouses of military personnel licensed in another state to obtain a teaching permit after moving to Nebraska. This budget creates new scholarships for private institutions of higher education and continues to fund scholarships for community colleges, state colleges and the University of Nebraska to connect students to career paths with well-paying jobs. . The budget also tripled the size of the textbook loan program, providing $ 3 million to support textbooks for private schools over the next two years.
Other major victories: Significant legislative action has also taken place on pro-life tax credits, Second Amendment protections, healthcare licensing, and take-out alcohol. A new tax credit for families with stillbirths will help offset medical bills, burial costs and the costs of preparing for the baby’s arrival. Senators and I have protected your Second Amendment rights by clarifying the law on the transportation of firearms and providing gun owners with better notification and information regarding license renewals. At my request, the legislature has made it easier for hospitals and healthcare facilities to meet their workforce needs by providing expedited reciprocity for many licensed healthcare professions. Finally, the legislature enshrined my popular take-out alcohol decree into law, ensuring that take-out cocktails, beer and wine continue after the pandemic.
While the legislature has made significant progress on the top priorities, there is still work to be done on a few key issues. The legislature has yet to impose limits on the growth of local property taxes. Local government property taxes have increased 4.3% per year over the past decade in Nebraska. It may not seem like much, but over 10 years it is an increase of almost 52%. By comparison, incomes have grown 48% and inflation only 18.7% over the past decade. Unless senators act, this trend will continue.
In addition, the legislature will have to meet again later this year to complete the process of redistributing the maps for congressional, legislative and other districts. The state of Nebraska was awaiting census data from the Biden-Harris administration so that we could complete this work.
As we move into summer, I’ll be scouring the state visiting you directly at town halls and other community events. I’ll be at Clay Center, Norfolk, Wahoo and Broken Bow for Town Halls next week with more dates and times to be announced. If you have any questions about anything, you can contact my office at [email protected] or 402-471-2244. We look forward to hearing from you!