Nebraska Governor Calls 2021 Legislative Session ‘Historic’
LINCOLN, NE (STL.News) Governor Pete Ricketts highlighted the historic results of the 107th Legislature’s first session in his annual “Sine Die” address to the unicameral on the last day of its 2021 regular session. The budget passed by senators provides combined tax relief of over $ 1.8 billion to Nebraskans over the next two years. It’s the biggest tax break a legislature has granted in at least a quarter of a century – and possibly the highest amount in the history of the state of Nebraska. This represents on average 18.5% of the state budget over the next two years.
In his remarks, the Governor thanked Senators for making historic progress on key priorities he set for himself in January, including property tax relief, veterans tax relief and broadband infrastructure. He also thanked lawmakers for their work to help state agencies in their response to the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Ricketts commended the Unicameral for controlling spending in the next biennial state budget. In addition, he praised senators for taking steps to pass laws based on lessons learned from the pandemic, such as fast track reciprocity for many licensed health professions.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION 2021
- Expenditure Control: Limits budget growth to 2.4% per year in the next biennial state budget. The four biennial budgets the Governor worked on with the Legislature have an average annual growth rate of less than 2.5%.
- Property Tax Relief: Provides estimated property tax relief of $ 1.7 billion during the biennium. This includes more than $ 433 million each year thanks to the new refundable tax credit, which was adopted in 2020.
- Veterans Tax Relief: Offers new tax relief to give Nebraska veterans 100% tax relief on military retirement benefits.
- Broadband Expansion: Invests $ 20 million annually in matching grants to expand broadband access to 30,000 homes in Nebraska.
- Social Security Tax Relief: Reduces taxes on Social Security income. The tax reduction will be phased in from tax year 2021, and fifty percent of social security income will be exempt from state income tax by the year of. taxation 2025.
- The Tax Truth: Sets out a new requirement for local governments to notify taxpayers whenever their property tax claims are expected to increase by more than 2%.
- Public Safety: Begins the process of replacing the aging Nebraska State Penitentiary with a modern correctional facility.
- Second Amendment Protections: Strengthens Second Amendment rights by clarifying the law on the transportation of firearms and providing gun owners with better notification and information regarding license renewals.
- Military Spouse Workforce: Reduces red tape to make it faster and easier for military spouses licensed in another state to obtain a teaching license after moving to Nebraska.
- Healthcare Workforce: Enables hospitals and healthcare facilities to more easily meet their workforce needs by providing expedited reciprocity for many licensed healthcare professions.
- Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education: Fully funds the Public School Assistance Formula, providing over $ 1 billion per year in support to K-12 public schools.
- Career Scholarships: 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.
- Aid to Private Schools: Triples the size of the textbook lending program, providing $ 3 million per year to support textbooks in private schools.
- Pro-Life: Adopts a new tax credit for families with stillborn babies to help offset medical bills, burial costs, and preparation costs for the baby’s arrival.
- Permanent take-out alcohol: Ensures take-out alcohol sales will continue after the coronavirus pandemic ends.