Ricketts calls for budget cuts, tax relief as he travels state

Gov. Pete Ricketts highlights his agenda for the year, with a visit to Grand Island (NTV News)

Governor Pete Ricketts calls for tax relief and budget cuts, saying the state of the state is strong.

“We have a great story to tell here in Nebraska,” he told an audience in Grand Island, as he visited with people from Lincoln to Scottsbluff.

His agenda focuses on budget cuts and tax relief.

He said, “It's important that we deliver tax relief in this legislative session. Nebraskans need and expect that we will deliver tax relief.”

Homeowners and farm land owners would get ten percent of their property tax bill back as a credit on their income taxes.

“It doesn't impact what any of the counties or local folks are doing. It's not a complete solution by itself. There's other things we need to do along those lines. But this is a way we can deliver over 10 years, $4 billion dollars in property tax relief to hard working Nebraska families,” the governor told reporters in Grand Island.

One farmer told the governor it's not enough.

Mike Dobesh said, “When you say or the governor says we're going to dedicate x amount of millions, it sounds like a big number. It's not.”

The Hall County farmer said some can't survive another year of low commodity prices, and high taxes are too much.

He said, “I myself am paying over $40,000 so what is meaningful tax relief, and that's just one farmer?”

The governor says his plan targets existing credits to Nebraska landowners.

“Make sure we're focusing on Nebraskans and not absentee landowners,” he said.

The budget shortfall is around $200 million dollars, over a two-year period. The governor proposes across the board budget cuts of two percent this year, and four percent in the coming fiscal year.

Ricketts said state agencies have eliminated 1,500 unfilled positions, and limited travel and other expenses.

The governor says his budget would protect schools, prisons, and child welfare.

While creating a culture that encourages economic growth.

“Work at the speed of business, to help those companies make investments here,” he said.

To close the budget gap, the governor’s plan would make $103 million in budget cuts, transfer $22 million from state funds with excess balances, and use $108 million from cash reserve.

The budget would make new investments in child welfare and corrections.

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