Gov. Pete Ricketts outlined his priorities for the next two years — including property tax relief — Thursday during his State of the State address before the 107th Nebraska Legislature.
Ricketts proposed a two-year budget that controls spending growth to 1.5%, which he said would allow the state to achieve several important priorities.
The proposed budget would deliver $1.36 billion in property tax relief over the biennium, which includes $550 in direct property tax relief through the state's Property Tax Credit Relief Fund and more than $596 million from the newly-enacted LB 1107 refundable property tax credit.
Ricketts is also proposing roughly $214 million to provide for property tax payments under the current homestead exemption program.
Ricketts and state Sen. Lou Ann Linehan are also working on a proposed bill to limit the growth of local government property taxes to 3%. Property taxes have grown by 4.46% annually on average over the last 10 years for an overall increase of 54.65%, Ricketts said.
“Taxes are growing at a rate that Nebraskans cannot manage within their family budgets. It is my belief that if the Legislature fails to enact spending constraints, the people of Nebraska will take matters into their own hands and strip local governments of their property tax authority,” he said. “It’s happened before in the 1960s when the voters stripped the State of its authority to levy a property tax, and it will happen again. The limits we are proposing here are reasonable, and will help ensure that local control of the institutions we cherish endures for years to come.”
Other priorities outlined in Ricketts' State of the State included:
• Investing $50 million to locate the new U.S. Space Command to Offutt Air Force Base despite the announcement that Alabama will get the headquarters.
• Increasing the tax break for military retirees from 50%, which was granted last year, to 100%. Ricketts is also asking the Legislature to remove barriers that prevent military spouses from taking jobs as teachers.
• Fully funding the state school aid formula with an additional $42.7 million in state aid to K-12 schools over the next two years. Each year of the budget, the formula would provide roughly $1.1 billion in aid to schools.
• Investing $115 million of the budget for a total of $230 million into a new, modern correctional facility, which is to be operational by 2025.
• Recommending legislation to allow licensed healthcare professionals from other states to work in Nebraska. An executive order in 2020 allowed this flexibility during the pandemic. Ricketts is proposing legislation that would make this change permanent.
• Expanding broadband internet to rural Nebraskans. Ricketts is proposing investing $40 million over the next two years to help 30,000 households get broadband connectivity.