The first 100 days of my administration have moved quickly as we have focused our priorities and resources on a single goal: Growing Nebraska. As I have said before, the key to growing our state for the next generation starts with creating jobs, lowering taxes, pushing back on regulation, and expanding educational opportunities. To achieve these goals and objectives, we have spent the first days of my administration focused on hiring transformational and innovative leaders and building a budget that reflects the fiscal restraint we need to provide Nebraskans with the tax relief they need and deserve.
We are building a great team. With the help of an executive search firm and the financial support of Nebraskans across our state, we were able to identify directors for key positions in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Economic Development. These leaders are already making a difference.
Here are just a few examples of the wonderful work my team has been doing these first few months: DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips announced with my office just last week a new transparency initiative that creates public performance metrics for ACCESSNebraska. The data will be updated online every month. This measure will help hold the program’s performance accountable not only to my office, but also to the people of Nebraska that this program serves. In the Department of Correctional Services, Director Scott Frakes is taking steps to upgrade software that calculates sentences to remove manual processes and reduce the probability of error in sentence calculations. Finally, Nebraska Department of Economic Development Director Brenda Hicks-Sorensen and Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach are planning the first trade mission of my administration which will take us to the European Union in June to promote Nebraska business and agriculture.
As a part of my budget recommendation, I put forward a plan to slow the growth of government and provide tax relief – the “3 percent plan.” If the Legislature holds the line on spending to around the 3 percent mark that I recommended in my budget while revenue continues to grow, the difference can provide tax relief to hardworking Nebraskans. Nebraska’s 2015 Business Tax Climate Index ranking by the Tax Foundation ranks us at 29th for competitiveness. If we plan to continue to create good-paying jobs for the next generation and to stay competitive nationwide and globally long-term, our business tax climate must improve.
I am pleased that the Appropriations Committee has adopted my recommendation to transfer an additional $60 million a year into the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund. This represents a nearly 43% increase and would bring the total transfer to the fund for the biennium to nearly $400 million. This is tax relief for all property owners in Nebraska. While the full Legislature must still consider this recommendation, this represents significant property tax relief if adopted. There are additional tax relief measures under consideration in the Legislature for which I continue to advocate, and there is still time for the Legislature to provide additional property tax relief this year.
During these past few months, we made some exciting announcements. A few weeks ago, my office announced that Nebraska attained the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, and this month it dropped even further to 2.6%. Last week we revealed that Sheldon Station in Hallam, Nebraska would become the first large utility to utilize hydrogen which will be provided by the first clean carbon black plant in the United States. This week, I joined leaders from the University of Nebraska to unveil Suji’s Korean Cuisine as the first international business to join Nebraska Innovation Campus. These stories are all great news for Nebraska and serve as evidence that our state is growing and vibrant.
This is just the beginning of our quest to grow Nebraska. As we work together, I will continue to listen to your ideas on how we can grow our state. Please contact my office at 402-471-2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!