Taxes and Budget Dominate Governor’s ‘State of the State’ Address

Taxes and Budget Dominate Governor’s ‘State of the State’ Address

Governor Pete Ricketts gave a very economic ‘State of the State’ address, focusing on barriers to growth, the state’s budget, and the need to lower taxes in Nebraska. 

The governor connected the issues of tax relief and state budget growth to increasing the state’s population and economic growth, calling for policymakers to address the problem of burdensome job licensing.  The governor proposed reforms benefitting car sales people, barbers, and cosmetologists, audiologists and massage therapists, which would align Nebraska with neighboring states and help grow our workforce.

Regarding income taxes, the governor noted that it’s been 20 years since Nebraskans last saw an income tax reduction.  Meanwhile, Wyoming and South Dakota don’t have an income tax, and Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri all have lower rates.  While Iowa currently has a higher rate, after the most recent election, Iowa may soon enact its own tax reforms that may leave Nebraska as one of the highest income-taxed states in the region.

Property tax is also a subject of focus for Governor Ricketts this year.  He proposes to change the way agricultural land is assessed. Under his plan, agricultural land would be assessed based on how much income it can generate, rather than its real estate value.

Of course, when you discuss cutting taxes you have to think about the spending side of the budget too.  The governor specifically addressed this in his speech, assuring no tax cuts would be made that would put the state in a future hardship. 

A response video by the Nebraska Democratic Party showed that while Democratic leaders sharply disagree with Governor Ricketts on taxes, Medicaid expansion and energy policy, both sides do agree that keeping families from moving out of state and creating new jobs should be a priority for policymakers.

Overall, in the 150th anniversary of Nebraska statehood, officials will be focused on economic policy, particularly taxes and spending.  Hopefully, regardless of party politics, the 2017 legislative session will produce policies that help create new jobs and make Nebraska a more desirable place to live the Good Life.

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