By Governor Pete Ricketts
July 6, 2016
The Governor’s official photo is available here.
Nebraska continues to grow! Last week, the Department of Labor and Department of Economic Development joined me to announce that Nebraska’s non-farm employment reached a new milestone last year: 1,000,000 jobs. We did not reach this point overnight. It came to us over the years through a lot of hard work and leadership from many across the state. This collaboration has created a national reputation for Nebraska as a great place for job creators and families looking to live, work, and raise their children.
Over the last year, Forbes ranked Nebraska third among the best states to do business nationally and CNBC named us the seventh best state for business. Recently, Money-Rates.com ranked Nebraska as the third best state for millennials citing Nebraska’s second lowest-in-the-nation ranking for young adult unemployment. Overall, Nebraska has the third lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Additionally, Nebraska has been receiving attention for the growing Silicon Prairie movement, which has fostered an environment for young entrepreneurs and startups. Forbes ranked Nebraska third for Fastest-Growing States for Tech Jobs in 2015, and both Lincoln and Omaha have received similar national recognition.
Nebraska did not receive these rankings by accident, and we must continue to work to create an event better environment for the job creators who are helping grow our state. One area Nebraska can improve upon is our tax climate. The Tax Foundation ranks Nebraska 26th highest for income tax and 12th highest for property tax. There is nothing competitive about high taxes. We have made progress in the last two years in providing tax relief, however, it is imperative we look for ways for the state to continue to provide additional relief. To cut taxes, we must continue to control spending. This last biennium, the Legislature and I cut the rate of growth in spending by about half to 3.6 percent. This summer and fall, my agencies and I are working to craft a budget for the next biennium that continues to constrain state spending.
In addition to providing tax relief and controlling spending, my administration has been working to make government more effective, efficient, and customer-focused over the past year and a half. Last year, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality launched online permitting for a number of environmental quality permits used by businesses. The agency has reduced the amount of time it takes to deliver certain permits from months and weeks to a single day. Working with partners across the state, we have pushed back on the Obama Administration’s attempts to implement the Waters of the U.S. Rule, roll out the Clean Power Plan, and cut the Renewable Fuel Standard. Last year, I led two overseas trade missions, one to the European Union and one to Asia. In November, I will be leading another trade mission to China. These missions have helped attract additional job-creating investments in Nebraska from overseas investors.
In addition to these initiatives, we have also launched a first-in-the-nation reemployment program, which is helping connect Nebraska’s jobseekers with good-paying jobs. The program provides one-on-one job coaching and requires jobseekers to create a resume that is searchable by potential employers. One of the program participants, Jacqueline Smith, recently shared about how she found her job as a Marriott Reservation Sales Specialist. I’ll let her words speak for themselves: “I had been out of the workforce for quite a while when I got started with the reemployment program. I had a son with a lot of medical issues and I had to find a position that allowed me to still be a parent first. I can remember the day very clearly when I got the call about the Marriott position. I was very excited because I was convinced that it was going to be a very long process. The position ended up being perfect for me.”
Jacqueline’s story is evidence that the hard work that our State of Nebraska team members are doing is having a real impact. As we continue to work together to grow Nebraska, my administration will focus on lowering the tax burden, controlling spending, and making government more customer-focused so we can get government out of the way of job creators. Next week, Nebraskans from across the state are coming together in Lincoln at the first annual Governor’s Summit on Economic Development to talk about additional ways to grow our state. If you are not able to join, I hope that you will share some of your thoughts on how we can continue to grow our state by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 402-471-2244.