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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Nebraskans Support Military Retirement Tax Relief

Media Contacts:  

Taylor Gage, 402-471-1970

Eric Maher, 402-471-1974



Governor Pete Ricketts: “Over the years as I have traveled Nebraska, military retirement tax relief has been a top priority for veterans and their families.  We want to make Nebraska the most veteran-friendly state in the country and encourage our heroes to stay in our state and move here.  Surrounding states provide tax relief for veterans, and with this proposal, we can make our state more competitive regionally and nationally.”


Senator Tom Brewer of Gordon: “Letting our veterans keep more of their military pensions will cause a modest reduction in income tax revenue, but I think the economic benefits of attracting highly skilled and trained veterans with strong leadership qualities outweigh whatever tax dollars will be lost.  If you think about it, this really isn’t a bill about income taxes.  This is a workforce development bill.  The great thing here is the workforce we want is already developed!  Attracting highly skilled Nebraskans with proven management and leadership ability to our workforce could in turn help attract companies that rely on such workers.  Our educational institutions and high-tech corporations, for example, need employees with skills many veterans possess.”


Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director John Hilgert: “Attracting and welcoming military retirees is real and substantial.  It recognizes and thanks them for their service as well as making it clear that we welcome them to help build our communities and to contribute to the future economic well-being of our state.  With the passage of LB 153 we want our veterans to hear the message.  When you leave Nebraska for the service, come back home to Nebraska.  When you are stationed in Nebraska, stay in Nebraska.  And when you are choosing where to live – choose Nebraska.”


Nebraska National Guard Adjutant General Daryl Bohac: “In the case of the Nebraska National Guard, LB 153 will add to the mix of benefits and entitlements that allow the Nebraska National Guard to recruit talent, particularly members of the active component who wish to continue their service but also benefit from the geographical stability membership in the National Guard offers.  In fact, for the Nebraska Air National Guard, 20 percent of our accessions are directly from the active component of the Air Force and 56 percent are prior service members who elect to continue serving with us.  For the Nebraska Army National Guard, 8 percent of our accessions come from the active component of the Army and 11 percent are prior service.  I believe our ability to attract and recruit active component and prior service members, particularly into the Army National Guard, will be enhanced by LB153.”


Nebraska Commissioner of Labor John Albin: “When attending veterans’ hiring fairs in other states, transitioning service members frequently tell DOL staff that Nebraska is not a relocation option due to the amount of military retirement pay subject to taxation in our state.  Nearly 60 percent of the states do not tax military retirement pay, including states with no state income tax.  Nebraska is losing retiring transitioning service members to bordering states because those states offer a more favorable treatment of military retirement benefits than does our state.  LB 153 will help bring additional highly trained veterans and transitioning service members into Nebraska’s workforce.”


Nebraska Department of Economic Development Director Dave Rippe: “Simply put, in our efforts to grow the Nebraska workforce and attract world-class employers, a focus on attracting and retaining Nebraska veterans will pay off in dividends.  The many thousands of men and women leaving U.S. military service each year represent a talent pool that Nebraska cannot afford to ignore, and it is our position that expanding veterans’ retirement tax relief will generate economic gains that will far outweigh projected costs.  On behalf of the Department, we express our ongoing appreciation to the members of the Revenue Committee for their hard work and commitment on behalf of the people of Nebraska.”


State Auditor Charlie Janssen: “I am pleased to see Governor Ricketts’ and Senator Brewers’ LB 153, which is before you today.  This bill delivers additional new tax relief for all veterans receiving military retirement benefits.  The 50 percent tax cut is a great step forward for thousands of veterans.  I urge the committee to vote to advance LB 153 to the floor for consideration by the full Legislature.”


Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert: “Military families stationed at Offutt Air Force Base and elsewhere strengthen the economic and social capital of Nebraska.  Active military members are generally eligible for retirement after 20 years of service.  They are then eligible to take civilian jobs, where they turn their military training into marketable skills in the private sector.  These workers pay income, sales, and property taxes, all benefiting the Nebraska economy.  During this time when a labor shortage exists in most of Nebraska, it is more important than ever to retain military pensioners and their families.  These honorable men and women are, and will continue to be, a valuable asset to all of Nebraska.  Please support passage of LB 153.”


Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike: “Bellevue is home to Offutt Air Force base, which has a $1.5 billion annual economic impact.  Providing more tax relief for our retired military with LB 153 would help Nebraska retain the talented workforce Offutt and other military installations are developing.  I urge the Legislature to pass LB 153, so we can make Bellevue and communities across the state a more attractive place for our military veterans to live and work.”


Military Officers of America President Dan Donovan: “It is well documented that our Nebraska income taxes on retired military are higher than those of all the surrounding States; retiring and retired military members are also well aware of this fact.  In fact, National MOAA has a transition program for retiring or separating military members and specifically recommends considering the potential impact of state and local taxes in deciding where to live.  In 2014, the Iowa Governor signed legislation giving a 100 percent exemption for military retirees.  That same year, 2014, the newly constructed Highway 34 bridge over the Missouri River opened and continues to attract military and civilian Offutt employees to reside in Iowa.”


Veterans’ Homes Board President James Cada: “Having met and worked with so many of our state’s military retirees, I can tell you these are the kinds of people we want to keep in the state.  They’re hard-working, disciplined, and highly skilled, usually with technical expertise.  I caution you not to focus on the perceived cost of this bill, but rather on the very real cost of losing these veterans and their families to other states.  We’re losing good people, a skilled workforce, and their income isn’t going into our economy.”


Director of Military Affairs at the Omaha Chamber of Commerce Jeff Mikesell: “The benefits of exempting at least a portion of military retiree pay from state income tax far exceed any fiscal note.  Exemption would promote the attraction and retention of highly skilled, highly educated and motivated veteran work force to our state.  Although Nebraska can boast many advantages, it is no secret within the military community that Nebraska ranks low on the list of retirement states, many saying this is specifically due to our state’s tax treatment of military retiree pensions.  It’s not just active duty members—National Guard and Reserve members live throughout the state—and the current tax environment within Nebraska serves as an impediment to retaining veterans as they actively seek out second careers in more favorable tax environments.”


Walmart Public Affairs & Government Relations Director Ryan Irsik: “In Nebraska, Walmart has hired 1,734 Veterans and have promoted more than 300 to roles with higher pay and greater responsibility since 2013.  Approximately 1,300 veterans and their families return to civilian life every day, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.  As these veterans return, the State of Nebraska should be committed to retain and recruit them.  By expanding military retirement tax relief, the state is ensuring that many of our nation’s heroes will return or move to Nebraska in order to provide a better life for themselves and their families.”


American Legion Nebraska District 7 Commander Dan Benes: “Retired military members are dedicated to our country.  They have sacrificed much along with their family while serving.  Much of their lifetime was given serving our state and nation.  These talented people have acquired many valuable skills.  These skills are extremely valuable to employers and are most sought after qualities for potential hires.  They’re somewhat uncommon, hard to teach and very marketable.  They are the abilities gained by working in a formally structured and disciplined environment with little room or tolerance for error.  Rest assured, these retired military members are much more employable and talented than often considered.  We need to continue to make more effort to retain them in our state.”


VFW Nebraska District 13 (South Central Nebraska) Commander James Lutz: “The simple fact is, Nebraska is losing out.  The cream of the crop serves for 20 or 30 years.  They have the best technical and leadership skills, but retire to states that offer them much better benefits and incentives than they get from their own home state.  I will tell you that we will continue to lose veterans to other states until benefits get better.  LB 153 is a step in the right direction.  I am asking the committee to vote unanimously to pass this bill to the General File.  The only thing going to make it better is to make it a 100 percent exemption.”


Cass County Veterans’ Service Officer Brian Coffman: “As a Veterans’ Service Officer whose county is nestled between two major arteries into Iowa (Highways 2 and 34) and a close proximity to Offutt Air Force Base (AFB), I have a unique perspective.  I have noted an uptick in veterans moving across the river over the last few years.  Most are still working in the Omaha metro area, but the largest group works at Offutt AFB and STRATCOM.  Many of these veterans are subject matter experts in their field and upon retirement leave in their uniform Friday and return to work as a civilian on Monday.  That’s a win-win for the employer and employee, but a huge loss if we don’t retain them in Nebraska.”


Retired National Guard Member and Business Owner Teresa Clark: “I’m sure you’re aware of the many open and unfilled jobs in our state, a large number of them in skilled and technology fields.  There are few populations better suited to fill these jobs than retired military members.  Every retiree who moves to another state is a job unfilled.  Every retiree we lose is lost growth in our state’s businesses and its economy.  I urge you to consider the importance of this and the look to the potential growth we are continuing to lose as long as our state is not competitive with the ones around us.”


Former Antelope County Veteran Service Officer Ron Marshall: “When you’re trying to stretch every dollar and a big piece of your federal benefits are taken by the state, that makes it very hard to get by.  After a while it starts to make more and more sense to leave Nebraska for somewhere that lets you keep all your retirement pay.  We don’t want our veterans to leave, and a lot of them don’t want to leave.  So why give them an incentive to leave our state?”


Retired Air Force Member James Pierce: “The main reason I would like to see this pass is to keep our retirees from leaving the state.  I go to Offutt Air Force Base every month for recruiting and get the same answer from most of the veterans.  When they retire they will move across the river to Glenwood, Iowa miles away where the taxes is nothing like Nebraska.  Retired vets pay little if any taxes in that state.  They all say the same thing.  I don't mind paying Nebraska taxes if I work in the state after retirement.  But not pay on my military retirement income.”


Retired Air Force Member Ronald Dupell: “I am not here to suggest that you do more for veterans simply because they are splendid  people, which is true.  I am here to say that Nebraska should do more for veterans because it needs to do so.  Nebraska needs more people who are veterans.  Why?  First of all, Nebraska needs to expand its workforce at a rate faster than the current two tenths of one percent.  Nebraska needs quality people.  All military organizations in Nebraska and the nation screen people, train them, discipline them and ensure that they perform at a high level.  Why would we not compete to retain them?”


Retired Army Member Dean Kenkel: “The benefits of exempting military retiree pay from state income tax far exceed the fiscal note usually attached to it.  Exempting the tax promotes the recruitment and retention of a highly skilled veteran work force to our state.  Although Nebraska has many advantages, it is no secret within the military community that Nebraska is ranked low on states to retire to due to the tax treatment of military retiree pay.  Many National Guard and Reserve members live in small towns throughout the state and is another group to entice to remain in Nebraska.  The current tax environment within Nebraska serves as an impediment retaining veterans as they actively seek out second careers in more favorable tax environments.”