Controlling Spending to Cut Taxes
By Governor Pete Ricketts
April 6, 2022
Governor’s official photo here.
In the remaining days of the 2022 Legislative Session, we must work together to strike the appropriate balance between managing government spending and returning excess revenue to the people. That is how we responsibly steward taxpayer money.
True to our collective character, Nebraskans have powered through the COVID-19 pandemic. In its wake, our hardworking citizens and businesses have leveraged that momentum to accelerate our growth and show the world the strength of the Nebraska Way.
While much of the world was still shut down, Nebraskans got to work. We had the nation’s lowest annual average unemployment in both 2020 and 2021. This year, our statewide employment has surpassed pre-pandemic levels by more than 16,000 people. And employment in our second largest industry, manufacturing, has climbed to its highest point since June 2008.
The trademark Nebraska work ethic has put our State in strong financial standing. State tax receipts for the current biennium are now expected to be $1.07 billion higher than what was forecasted at the end of the 2021 Legislative Session. By next fiscal year, tax receipts are anticipated to grow to nearly $6 billion. Nebraskans’ perseverance during the pandemic helped deliver this growth. But it’s been aided by the responsible biennial budget the Nebraska Legislature passed last year to fund state services through the next fiscal year. This year, the Legislature is making adjustments to that budget.
That’s how budgets work in Nebraska: in the odd years, the biennial budget is set. And in the even years, the Legislature returns to make budget adjustments. But that’s not all they are tasked with delivering. They must also work to tackle other important policy issues – like Nebraska’s high taxes.
These needs are not at odds. Managing our budget and issuing tax relief go hand-in-hand. As I stated at my very first State of the State address in January 2015, if we can restrain government’s growth, we can afford to put money back in the pockets of taxpayers. In turn, taxpayers will be able to enjoy more of the Good Life here in our state.
With this in mind, I set a goal at the start of my administration to keep the annual growth of government spending at three percent or less. So far, we have done that.
During my tenure as Governor, I have worked with the Legislature to restrain the growth of government spending to an average of 2.4 percent annually. This controlled spending, combined with the growth of our tax revenues (roughly five percent a year on average historically) is what now allows us to provide significant tax relief to the people.
We can return money to our seniors in the face of rising inflation; to our property owners, who are demanding relief year after year; and to our hardworking middle-class families and small businesses. This year, we do this through LB 873, a bill that will fully exempt social security from state income taxes, substantially increase property tax relief, and cut our high individual and business tax rates. LB 873 is still being considered by the Legislature and will deliver comprehensive tax relief to Nebraskans.
On April 5th, LB 873 cleared a second round of voting. It still needs to pass one final vote before coming to my desk for signature. At the time I write this column, we are down to our last seven days of the 2022 Legislative Session. If you have not done so already, I urge you to contact your state senator immediately to let them know your support of LB 873 and the historic levels of tax relief it will usher in.
If you have questions about my commitment to control spending and deliver tax relief, please email email@example.com or call 402-471-2244.