By Governor Pete Ricketts
January 14, 2019
Official photo here.
Last week, I delivered my Second Inaugural Address as the 2019 legislative session kicked off. During the address, I outlined my vision to grow Nebraska over the next four years. The four pillars of that vision build upon work we have accomplished over the last few years: connecting Nebraskans to great-paying jobs; cutting red tape and improving services; controlling spending and cutting taxes; and promoting Nebraska.
As the session opens, I have been unveiling new initiatives to grow Nebraska. Recently, we announced a new veterans’ tax relief proposal, which has been receiving broad support, including an endorsement from the Lincoln Journal-Star editorial board. This past week, the University of Nebraska, along with our state colleges and community colleges, joined me to announce a new initiative to connect Nebraskans to high-paying jobs and great educational opportunities.
We are focused on connecting Nebraskans to great jobs because it gives individuals and families dignity, economic freedom, and financial independence. In Nebraska, we are well-situated to connect people with improved job opportunities. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 2.8 percent. We have the fourth-highest workforce participation rate in the nation. And there are tens of thousands of openings on the state’s jobs website in any given month.
With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that employers across Nebraska have named workforce development as a top priority. We have many job opportunities for people with the skills to fill them. That means companies, particularly in fields such as manufacturing, IT, and other specialties, have a need to attract new talent and equip them with necessary job skills. To help create pathways for more Nebraskans to these careers, Nebraska’s colleges and university system are joining me to propose a new scholarship program. We are also proposing the expansion of an existing program for middle school students.
Our first proposal is the creation of Nebraska Talent Scholarships. This new program would provide $4,000 scholarships for students in targeted programs of study at the state’s institutions of higher education. It will establish over 2,100 scholarships at our institutions of higher education to help students pursue careers in high-demand career fields ranging from healthcare to engineering and criminal justice to math.
The second proposal expands the Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI), which was first launched four years ago to help expose middle school students to careers in manufacturing and IT. Since 2015, DYTI has reached over 7,000 students across 23 school districts, exposing them to manufacturing and IT careers. For example, the Nucor Detailing Center in Norfolk has successfully partnered with five public schools through DYTI. Their goal is to teach approximately 1,000 students per year about design software and manufacturing equipment, helping to familiarize them with career possibilities in these fields. Also, Metalquest in Hebron worked with Sandy Creek and Lawrence-Nelson Public Schools, and increased students’ interest in manufacturing from 39 percent to 75 percent.
Over four years, DYTI has awarded two $125,000 grants per year to programs across the state. This year, we are proposing to expand the DYTI grants to Nebraska public schools from $250,000 to $1.5 million annually, allowing for up to 12 grants per year. The expansion aims to reach new students in every region of the state each year to make a bigger impact.
Connecting Nebraskans to great job opportunities and helping our people develop the skills they need to take great jobs is critical to growing our state. If you want to support our efforts to connect more Nebraskans with great jobs, I hope you will write or call your State Senator and ask them to support our proposals. You can visit www.NebraskaLegislature.gov for information on how to contact your senator.
Lastly, I will unveil my budget for consideration by the Legislature during my annual State of the State address this week. My budget will control spending and deliver additional property tax relief. To learn more about my budget when it is introduced, please visit www.Governor.Nebraska.gov for more information. If you have questions on any issue, I hope you will write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-471-2244. We look forward to hearing from you!