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The Nebraska Legislature has finished the first session of the 104th Legislature and many of our senators have now returned home to the voters in districts they represent. As they spend the summer hearing from Nebraska’s second house, my administration continues to work on my legislative priorities.
I shaped much of my administrative agenda by listening to Nebraskans. As I said during my State of the State address back in January, the work of state government impacts the lives of all our hardworking citizens. That is why it is so important that we, your elected officials, listen to you when making decisions that have real-life implications. This past session I prioritized cutting the growth of state government and providing property tax relief.
I am pleased to report that, together with the legislature, we were successful in cutting the growth in state government by nearly half – to about three and a half percent. Together we provided significant property tax relief by adding an additional $128 million in property tax relief through the Property Tax Credit Relief fund. We provided tax relief on personal property, as well.
These measures represent great strides in providing much-needed tax relief, but we can and must do more. As I have said before, Nebraska did not get to be a high tax state overnight, and we are not going to fix that overnight either. These measures are a start, but our work is far from over. It is important that we continue to provide meaningful tax relief again next year.
There are other notable accomplishments this session. This year, we provided additional flexibility to nurse practitioners to deliver much-needed, affordable healthcare to Nebraskans across the state. This measure is especially critical for the rural parts of our state. The budget I signed included a pilot program to expand vocational and career training opportunities for young Nebraskans. We also took steps to address the public assistance cliff effect, which will better allow people to take that better-paying job, promotion, or pay increase without public assistance as an obstacle.
Immediately after the end of the legislative session, I began working to identify priorities for the next legislative session. Strategic planning sessions among my staff and state agencies are already underway as we continue to brainstorm, prioritize, and shape budget and policy. By working as a team within the government’s executive branch, we can continue to use our resources wisely by streamlining state government.
Open lines of communication between all of Nebraska’s agencies are already creating new opportunities for our state. Leaders in the Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development are joining me on my first international trade mission as Governor of Nebraska this week. On our trip to Italy, Belgium, and Denmark, I am working with both agencies to form international relationships by promoting Nebraska’s agricultural products to foreign investors. Growing these relationships outside our borders continues to solidify Nebraska’s great reputation for producing high-quality commodities.
Nebraska’s Economic Development Director Brenda Hicks-Sorensen and Dept. of Ag Director Greg Ibach are two members of my team who understand the value in working together to Grow Nebraska. My team of agency directors combines leaders chosen for their exemplary work both in and outside of our state. Their talent, experience, and perspectives are already bringing balance and innovation to state government.
I am now working with those agencies to review their budgets and find additional ways to conserve. In doing so, we can continue to work toward our goal to deliver services to hardworking Nebraskans at a lower cost.
Spending time with Nebraskans is also one of my top priorities, and I will continue to travel our state to hear about your priorities and concerns.
As always, you are welcome to contact my office at (402) 471-2244, or by email, at email@example.com.