The Governor’s official photo is available here.
Good infrastructure facilitates the lives we live and connects communities. Every day, we rely on our transportation system to take kids to school, care for our families, get to work, and transport our products to market. I have the privilege of traveling our beautiful state in service as your Governor. One of my favorite stretches of road is Highway 20 west of Valentine, which passes through the Sandhills. With all the rain last spring and summer, it was incredibly green and especially beautiful.
Over the years we have had prudent leadership prioritize roads and infrastructure, which has resulted in some of the best roads in the United States. In government there are always more good ideas than there is money, so prioritizing and planning for the core functions of government—like public safety and roads—is necessary. One legacy of this kind of wise leadership is the Build Nebraska Act, which prioritized a quarter cent of sales tax for infrastructure. This important legislation was successfully shepherded through the Unicameral by now U.S. Senator Deb Fischer.
We have some targeted areas in Nebraska where additional investment will bring economic development opportunities. Our expressway system, begun almost 30 years ago, remains unfinished and counties struggle to fund needed bridge repair. A commitment to connect new and expanding business to our state’s roads better positions us to attract good-paying jobs.
Last week Senator Jim Smith, Chairman of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, joined me in announcing a new infrastructure initiative. This initiative creates an infrastructure bank to dedicate a one-time infusion of $150 million to accelerate completion of the expressway system, provide matching funds to counties to repair deficient bridges, and connect new and expanding businesses to our infrastructure system. The infrastructure bank also takes advantage of innovative tools to accelerate the process for completion of our larger roads projects.
Kyle Schneweis, Director of the Department of Roads, joined Nebraskans in hearings across the state to discuss roads funding options. The infrastructure bank emerged as the best option in part because it honors Nebraska’s pay-as-you-go tradition. Unlike other states that have relied on debt to build roads, Nebraska budgets for priorities like infrastructure. Balancing our budget and living within our means has earned Nebraska a triple-A credit rating, and we have the lowest debt per capita in the nation. Continuing to build infrastructure in a fiscally-responsible manner is key to maintaining these achievements.
Legislation to create the infrastructure bank will be introduced after my State of the State address, which I will deliver in front of the Legislature on January 14, 2016 at 10:00am. You can livestream the speech online at www.netnebraska.org. Following the address, I will travel to South Sioux City, Columbus, Grand Island, Hastings, North Platte, Sidney, Scottsbluff, Alliance, Valentine, and Fremont to share my priorities for this legislative session. For full details on the stops, please visit www.Governor.Nebraska.gov. I hope to see you on the road!