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LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts remained laser-focused on state budget constraint and reduced taxes during a luncheon speech Wednesday to a Lincoln Chamber of Commerce audience.

That's his "top priority," the governor said.

But, he suggested, there is "a lot more work to do (in obtaining) fiscal restraint at the local level."

Citing past increases in local school spending following state school aid hikes that were designed to "help reduce the property tax load," Ricketts said he's engaged in talks now about new efforts to encourage spending constraint at the local level.

In addition to continued state budget restraint, the governor said, he will push next year for a comprehensive income and property tax reduction package that currently is trapped by a filibuster on the floor of the Legislature.

Ricketts pointed to Sen. Burke Harr of Omaha as the leader of that filibuster.

"Nebraska is known as a high-tax state," the governor said. "We need to reduce taxes. The only way is to control spending."

Ricketts said he also is determined to "reduce barriers for job creators" by streamlining state government processes, reforming occupational licensing requirements, and reducing rules and regulations.

During his speech at the Lincoln Country Club, the governor centered on recent trade missions that he said are important for Nebraska agriculture and the state's manufacturing sector.

In answer to questions, Ricketts said the state is "looking at a number of things," including investments in technology, to increase security at the State Capitol and he indicated he is not close to naming a successor to former Sen. Joni Craighead of Omaha, who resigned from her seat in the Legislature last month.


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