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Getting back to business
FROM THE GOVERNOR

Getting back to business

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This week, State Senators return to Lincoln to finish the remaining days of the 2020 legislative session. As they get back to business, there are a handful of key issues that will command much of the Legislature’s attention in the limited time remaining. As I wrote about last week, Nebraska’s top priority for this session is property tax relief. The property tax issue along with a few others will dominate the waning days of the session, which are sure to move at a fast pace. Here’s a short overview of what’s to come.

Financial Picture: The Legislature’s return comes as Nebraska remains in a relatively strong financial position, setting up the opportunity to deliver property tax relief. For the fiscal year that just ended on June 30th, the State of Nebraska exceeded its certified revenue forecast by over $10 million despite the impact of coronavirus. This is especially impressive since a significant portion of state income tax dollars originally forecasted for April 2020 will now be reported in July 2020. That shift is due to the change in the state’s income tax filing deadline from April 15th to July 15th. Additionally, the Nebraska Forecasting Advisory Board will meet this week to set a new forecast, which will help inform the Legislature’s work in the remaining days of session.

Property Tax Relief: Property tax relief is the top priority for Nebraskans as the Legislature returns to work. Over the last five years, the State has made progress in delivering relief from high local property taxes for hardworking Nebraskans. In 2019, Senators and I delivered significant tax relief by increasing the property tax credit relief fund by over 20 percent. That fund has nearly doubled during my time as Governor, from $140 million to $275 million per year. This year, Senator Linehan’s LB 1106 would provide millions of dollars in new support for K-12 schools in an effort to control local property tax growth. This bill is the vehicle for property tax relief this session. I will be working closely with Senators in the coming weeks to deliver this important relief for hardworking Nebraska families.

Business Tax Incentives: Passing a property tax bill is critical to the hopes of continuing Nebraska’s business tax incentives. Currently, Nebraska’s tax incentives are scheduled to expire at the end of 2020. Many Senators and I agree that we must deliver property tax relief before corporate tax incentives. Senator Mark Kolterman has introduced a bill (LB 720) to refine and extend the state’s tax incentive program. Unlike other state incentive programs, Nebraska’s tax incentives are performance-based. Tax benefits aren’t given in the hopes of future investment. They’re only earned by businesses that have already created verifiable jobs in our state. This feature ensures that incentives reward actual job creation in Nebraska. The incentives have helped attract major investments in the Cornhusker State. The incentives are part of the reason why Nebraska has ranked among the top three states in the nation for most new economic development projects per capita for five consecutive years.

UNMC NExT Project: The success of another major proposal is awaiting progress on property tax relief. Senator Kolterman also introduced LB 1084, which would support Nebraska’s bid for a major investment at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). The proposed investment at UNMC would support an academic medical facility to help the United States address future pandemics and other public health events. Additionally, the project has the potential to create 8,700 great-paying jobs.

Veterans Tax Relief: Tax relief for veterans is a key part of our plan to make Nebraska the most veteran-friendly state in the nation. At my request, Senator John Lowe prioritized LB 153 earlier this year to provide tax relief for veterans. The bill would exempt 50 percent of military retirement benefit income from state income taxation. LB 153 keeps us competitive with other Midwestern states, most of which do not tax military retirement benefits at all.

 Ban Dismemberment Abortions: Nebraska is a pro-life state, and it’s important that our laws reflect our values. Senator Suzanne Geist has introduced LB 814, a bill that further strengthens Nebraska’s pro-life policies. LB 814 would put an end to the brutal practice of dismemberment abortion in Nebraska. This type of abortion usually takes place between 13 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. The barbaric procedure literally rips apart a preborn child, piece-by-piece, to destroy the life of the baby. This summer, Senators can put a stop to this ruthless way of performing an abortion by passing this important bill.

From property tax relief to pro-life policy, Legislators have a full agenda in the coming days. The best way to share your perspective about these bills and others is to reach out to them directly. You can find contact information for your State Senator at www.NebraskaLegislature.gov. If you would like more information on any of the bills I have written about here, please email pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call 402-471-2244. We look forward to hearing from you!

Pete Ricketts is the governor of Nebraska.

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