Ricketts State Of The State Address Calls For Another $500-M In Property Tax Relief

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Governor Pete Ricketts delivered his 5th State of the State address Wednesday, praising Nebraskans for their response to last year’s flooding and other natural disasters, celebrating economic success for the state, and revealing his proposed mid-biennium budget adjustments and legislative initiatives.

Declaring again that “2019 will be remembered as Nebraska’s finest hour,” Ricketts paid tribute to the 6 people who lost their lives helping others in the floods and to the first responders who rescued people.

He then outlined with the theme “Keep Nebraska Strong” his four major budget priorities: property tax relief, flood relief, veterans tax relief, and growing people and businesses. Spending growth through the rest of the biennium would be about 2.9%

In October, the state’s forecasting board raised its revenue projection by $266 million for the current and upcoming fiscal year combined. Ricketts said he plans to use most of it to provide a lot more property tax relief

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The governor wants to provide $50 million dollars for the state’s share of disaster relief projects funded primarily by FEMA, another $9.4-million to help the hardest-hit counties, and a little over $3-million to help replenish the Governor’s Emergency Fund to be ready for future disasters.

On workforce expansion, Ricketts is asking for $8-million dollars to implement the new wage agreement with the Corrections Officers Union for pay raises and schedule changes at the state prisons.

He also wants $16-million dollars for scholarships to the state’s community colleges, state colleges, and the University of Nebraska system “to help connect the next generation of Nebraskans with great careers in fields ranging from math and engineering to healthcare and IT.”

Ricketts admitted some of his proposals and those by members of the legislature will become realities only if this year’s session is marked by “collaboration and cooperation, but expressed confidence it would happen

After his speech, Ricketts began a 3-day, 9-city fly-round across the state to talk about his proposals. His last stop Wednesday was at the Western Nebraska Regional Airport in Scottsbluff.

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